OM in the semifinals of the Europa League Conference after their victory in Greece

They were promised hell in a boiling stadium. As in Basel, the Marseilles got their way in hostile territory, in Thessaloniki. A 1-0 victory, Thursday April 14, thanks to a goal by Dimitri Payet (35th), perfectly served by Matteo Guendouzi. A success, added to the first leg (2-1) that allows the Olympians to join the quarterfinals of the Europa League conference. A victory built thanks to the capital performances of Steve Mandanda and Dimitri Payet, the two captains of Marseille this season.

Il Fenomeno had announced the color in the pre-match press conference. “We play to reach the end”, announced the historic goalkeeper of OM. And it is that Steve Mandanda united the words to the facts. With five saves, the goalkeeper kept a clean sheet against a melting Stade de la Toumba waiting to exult.

But by frustrating the Greek attackers, Mandanda did not leave the fans the joy of celebrating a goal and believing in qualification. On the contrary, they disliked him. From the beginning of the game, even transcended by the smoke from the fireworks display proposed at the entrance of the players, the black and whites did everything possible to open the scoring and return to equality in the double confrontation. But Chuba Akpom then fell José Crespo on a wall (10th).

Stops that allowed the Marseillais to get through the storm without incident. Perfect in the role of lightning rod, Steve Mandanda, who had a third consecutive start for the first time since late August, offered himself another rescue before halftime. Still decisive at the end of the match, the player with the most appearances in the history of the European Cup for a French club (99 appearances), managed another perfect match, enough to rekindle the discussion about his starting job. And to return to the World Cup?

It was another veteran who put the Olympians in orbit to seek this classification. For his 293rd match with OM, Dimitri Payet had just finished a good moment for Marseille after the assaults of the first quarter of an hour saved by his captain. A true team effort.

His 14th goal in all competitions for his most prolific season of his career at age 35. Already a scorer in the first leg, with a guided missile in the skylight of Alexandros Paschalakis, he did it again, well served by Matteo Guendouzi. Second top scorer for his club this season and best passer, Payet is fully in Jorge Sampaoli’s system, in the stands for this round of the quarterfinals.

Steve Mandanda, who should therefore play his hundredth European match in the Olympic shirt, and Dimitri Payet will play their place in the final against the Dutch Feyenoord, returning to the Vélodrome. For a new European semifinal in the history of the Olympic club.

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