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Aubameyang At The Double, Canaries In Trouble

Written By: Abidoye Babatunde

Olympique de Marseille have been in a rich run of form since replacing Gennaro Gattuso as manager with the wily figure of Jean-Louis Gasset. The seventy-year-old has brought a sense of calm to the pressure cooker environment in La Provence and the results have followed.

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Four wins in four for the fourth manager of the season, and finally a clean sheet as Marseille demolished Marcelino’s Villarreal during their midweek Europa League tie.

The same cannot be said about Jocelyn Gourvennec’s FC Nantes where results have been inconsistent. Last weekend, a loss to FC Metz was particularly damaging as their opposition hadn’t won since November, leaving La Maison Jaune a place above FC Lorient in the relegation playoff spot.

There was no danger of slipping further down the table tonight as their goal difference was far superior to Lorient’s but still the worries have begun to show for one of France’s sporting institutions.

The Canaries, chasing a third successive away league win for the first time since May 2021, came with a clear tactic of sitting with men behind the ball, while showing little attacking endeavour. That made them difficult to break down, but the game plan unravelled when Aubameyang netted for the fifth game running, nipping in front of the goalkeeper to meet Ismaïla Sarr’s low right wing cross before converting from close range.


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That ought to have coaxed the visitors out of their shell a little more, but the best chances still came at the other end, with Aubameyang left grimacing after missing a close range header to double his tally for the night. Sarr then lashed wide from inside the area after excellent work by Chancel Mbemba, before Phocaeans goalkeeper Pau López was called into action for the first time, making a superb fingertip save from Moussa Sissoko’s guided 20 yard strike.

Buoyed by that opening, Jocelyn Gourvennec made a couple of attacking substitutions at the break, and with those reinforcements on the pitch, only a last-ditch Mbemba block prevented Mostafa Mohamed from equalising. Marseille’s Jordan Veretout then had a low, curling effort tipped around the post, but it was Nantes who continued to push, with Bénie Traoré having one shot saved and another blocked.

Those missed chances proved crucial though, as the hosts put the game to bed through Aubameyang, who beat the offside trap to reach Geoffrey Kondogbia‘s crossfield ball, and after having his initial effort saved, the Gabon forward squeezed the rebound in at the near post. That sucked the life out of the visitors, for whom there was to be no comeback.

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Nantes now fall into the bottom three, heightening fears they could drop into the second tier for the first time since 2012/13, whereas it’s now five wins from five for Jean-Louis Gasset since taking the reins at Stade Vélodrome.

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