OM - Braga (3-0): One foot in the last 16thu 15 feb at 21:17
OM produced an impressive performance against SC Braga this evening to put themselves in an advantageous position in securing a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League.
Rudi Garcia made a few changes to the side that drew with Saint-Etienne last week, presumably with one eye on the big domestic fixtures still to come in February.
In tonight’s first leg, the Portuguese side were put to the sword in the early minutes of the game.
Valère Germain was the beneficiary of a superb pass from Dimitri Payet as the result of an aggressive press forward. The OM number 28 diverted his effort past Braga’s Matheus to give the hosts the perfect start after 4 minutes.
OM were unrelenting in the first 25 minutes of the game, being increasingly dominant on the wing. Lucas Ocampos was unlucky in being thwarted by the impressive Matheus throughout.
With the threat of an away goal looming throughout the game, it was important to restrict the visitors tonight. But there were moments of caution, particularly when Adil Rami was forced to deny Vukcevic in the 1st half.
Nevertheless, OM pushed on in search of a second goal and were duly rewarded. Hiroki Sakai’s burst on the left wing saw him pick out Germain who struck with precision to double OM’s lead.
While he was substituted, his replacement - none other than Florian Thauvin - picked up where he left off. Four minutes later, a superb passing move between Thauvin and Maxime Lopez saw the former score with a well-placed shot (74th).
There were plenty more chances towards the end of the game, but OM will be pleased with the overall first-leg showing.
Attention now turns to the Ligue 1 Conforama and the home game v Bordeaux on Sunday before the team goes to finish the job in Braga next Thursday.