Struggling French giants Olympique de Marseille face a trophy-less season after they were knocked out of the Coupe de France in a nine-goal thriller on Tuesday, going down 5-4 at home to fellow Ligue 1 side OGC Nice.
Marseille, lacking the financial clout to compete with well-funded bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco, showed some spirit in the second half, with Andre-Pierre Gignac bringing them back to 4-3 with a wonderful overhead kick in his second goal of the game.
However, former Marseille player Fabrice Abriel restored the two-goal advantage and although veteran Souleymane Diawara — who had scored an own-goal in the first-half — made it 5-4 the fans had run out of hope and already headed for the exits.
Marseille’s elimination from the Coupe came a week after they were knocked out of the French League Cup and extends a dreadful run which has also seen them knocked out of the Champions League group stage with no points and trailing leaders PSG by 18 points in Ligue 1.
Marseille coach Jose Anigo, who stepped in when Elie Baup was sacked last month, said that several players simply had not done their job, but refused to be too depressed about the defeat.
“It is more disappointing than a massive blow,” Anigo said.
“There were some enormous individual errors for which I am powerless to do anything about on the touchline,” added the 52-year-old, a Marseille man through and through, having played 200 games for l’OM and been part of the coaching staff since 2001.
Earlier, three Ligue 1 clubs were eliminated by lower-division sides, including Corsican duo AC Ajaccio and SC Bastia.
Ajaccio, bottom of Ligue 1, went down 2-1 at home to Ligue 2 side Stade Malherbe Caen, while Bastia lost 2-1 away at another second-tier team, former French champions RC Lens.
Bastia’s city rivals Ligue 2 CA Bastia saved Corsican honor by defeating Chamois Niortais 5-4 on penalties after the all second-tier clash ended 2-2 after extra-time.
Lens, presently third in Ligue 2, went through thanks to a beauty of a winner by Senegalese international Deme N’Diaye that had coach Antoine Kombouare running up and down the touchline in an exuberant celebration.
Formerly PSG coach Kombouare had made some changes to personnel for the match after being dissatisfied with their performances of late and was delighted with the reaction.
“This is one of our best performances of the season,” he said. “In terms of emotion, this is huge. We didn’t back off from the first minute to the last and we have emerged with enormous credit from this game. I played my win at all costs card with the players this evening and they didn’t let me down. I am very proud of them.”
Second-from-bottom Sochaux-Montbeliard also fell by the wayside as they went down 1-0 away at Ligue 2 side Angers SCO, with the experienced Djibril Konate scoring the winner. What made defeat sourer was that Konate is a player Sochaux coach Herve Renard knew well from his time in Africa.
However, Renard, who coached Zambia to an emotion-charged win in the 2012 African Cup of Nations, took the exit from the Coupe with his trademark optimism.
“It may be a paradox, but qualifying for the next round wasn’t essential even if we would obviously have liked to have gone through,” he said. “Now we have to turn the page and focus on the league where the situation is very difficult [they are 10 points from safety]. It is important to stay positive.”
In other Coupe clashes, Stade Rennais blanked US Boulougne CO 2-0, En Avant de Guingamp avoided humiliation to scrap a win over fourth-tier US Concarneau 3-2 in extra-time and LOSC Lille Metropole routed IC Croix 3-0.