OM - Athletic (3-1): Ocampos leads the charge

thu 08 mar at 23:02
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The Argentine winger struck twice - either side of a Dimitri Payet half-volley - as OM picked up a commanding first leg advantage

OM stormed to a 3-1 victory in the UEFA Europa League last 16 first leg against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening.

With domestic difficulties put to one side, Rudi Garcia’s men aimed to extend an impressive home record in Europe this season against seasoned European opposition.

And they got just that inside 45 seconds in a fervent Orange Vélodrome. Florian Thauvin drifted a great ball in from the right for Lucas Ocampos to slowly turn the ball past the Athletic goalkeeper.

It was 2-0 just 13 minutes later as OM upped the ante. The visitors were simply unable to clear their lines, as Dimitri Payet produced a sumptuous half-volley into the roof of Iago Herrerin’s goal.

It could’ve been four in a frenetic first half-hour for OM, though Valere Germain was unable to convert his first-half opportunities. At the other end, Steve Mandanda had to only contend with one mildly difficult Aritz Aduriz strike.

On the stroke of half-time, controversy. Aduriz’s ball hit Adil Rami, before the referee after much consultation awarded a penalty. It was then converted by the 37-year-old.

But OM were not perturbed, and Ocampos quickly hit a 3rd in the early second half period after great work by Payet on the right.

There was some bad news in that Thauvin was stretchered off with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

OM nearly had a 4th - and a 3rd for Ocampos - but his chip over the goalkeeper was bundled off the line by Etxeita. But Rudi and his team can be pleased with their showing tonight.

The second leg takes place in San Mames, Bilbao next Thursday.