Mon, Apr 16, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Marseille strike late to retain their grip on League Cup

AFP, Paris

Olympique de Marseille forward Loic Remy, right, and midfielder Mathieu Valbuena celebrate with the French League Cup after winning the final against Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

An extra-time goal by substitute Brandao gave Olympique de Marseille a 1-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais at Stade de France on Saturday that handed Marseille the French League Cup for a record third successive season.

The Brazilian beat Hugo Lloris with a low shot in the 105th minute to settle a low-quality encounter and end a desperate run of form that had seen Marseille go 12 games without victory in all competitions.

“It’s our sixth title in three years,” said OM coach Didier Deschamps, who has faced criticism from his club’s fans in recent weeks. “That’s an average of two per year, for a club that hadn’t won anything in 17 years. It’s to the players’ credit. I also want to thank the technical staff and the medical staff. It’s a great source of pride for me. It doesn’t change the analysis of our season — which hasn’t been good in the league — but it’s a title and no one can take that away from us.”

Having slumped to ninth in Ligue 1 and been swept out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, victory over OL means Deschamps’ side can at least look forward to the Europa League next season.

Lyon’s four-year trophy drought continues, but they will start as strong favorites when they return to the Stade de France to face third-tier Quevilly in the French Cup final in two weeks’ time.

“Unfortunately, we’ve already had setbacks this season, but we’ve always bounced back,” said Lyon coach Remi Garde, whose side are also bidding to chase down third-placed LOSC Lille Metropole in Ligue 1. “I have faith in my squad. I’ll try to find the words so that we can come back again and achieve our objectives. We want that third place and we’ll be there.”

There was an early scare for Marseille when Lisandro Lopez headed wide from an offside position, but the initial exchanges were scrappy, typified by a miscued cross by Kim Kallstrom that sailed over the OM crossbar.

Lyon played narrowly and invited Marseille to attack them, but the holders’ forward forays lacked penetration and at times the game’s tempo brought to mind an exhibition match.

Halftime arrived without either goalkeeper having been tested, although Anthony Reveillere had to be alert to thwart Loic Remy as he strode into the Lyon area in the 39th minute.

The capacity crowd had to wait until the hour for a shot on target, but Bafetimbi Gomis’ header was straight at Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and again, the assistant referee’s flag was raised.

It stung Marseille into action and in the 65th minute Morgan Amalfitano came close to making the breakthrough when his header from Mathieu Valbuena’s left-wing cross was touched onto the post by Lloris.

The stadium came to life, but the excitement was to prove short-lived as the play quickly regained the disjointed, soporific quality that had characterized the first period.

Gomis planted a header over the bar from a left-wing corner in the 84th minute and it was to prove the last action of note before extra-time.

Valbuena shot straight at Lloris midway through the first period of extra-time, while Gomis flashed a left-foot effort across the face of goal at the other end.

Jimmy Briand then blazed over the bar after being set free in the OM box and moments later Brandao claimed the winner, just nine minutes after coming on for Remy.

The Brazilian stole in front of Samuel Umtiti to claim Benoit Cheyrou’s center and then hold his nerve to fire the ball between Lloris’ legs from close range and haul his side out of their springtime gloom.

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