The French side are still in pole position to progress as runners-up in Group F, despite losing another late goal at Stade VelodromeA superb late strike from Ioannis Fetfatzidis struck a dagger in the heart of Olympique de Marseille’s hopes of qualifying from Champions League Group F, as Olympiakos picked up a surprise 1-0 success in France.
The Greeks had the better chances in the first half, drawing several fine stops from home goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, and Marseille’s inability to react after the interval invited the late winning goal from the young midfielder, whose volley from the corner of the box was brilliantly executed.
After Marseille created a couple of half-chances for holding midfielder Alou Diarra in the opening 10 minutes, they spent much of the opening half frustrated by a well-drilled Greek defence. Aside from a couple of hopeful long-range shots deflected wide, it was Ernesto Valverde’s side who had the better openings.
Kevin Mirallas was a particular threat for Olympiakos, frequently causing problems down the left channel with his speed and movement. Ten minutes before the break, a strong counter was led by the Belgian, who blasted by three players before his effort was blocked by Mandanda. Iosif Holebas picked up the rebound 25 metres out, but the goalkeeper somehow adjusted himself to block the left-sided player’s wickedly-deflected shot.
The Greeks earlier had a 10th minute header from Olof Mellberg disallowed because of offside, and before the half was out, Giannis Maniatis had again drawn a save from Mandanda.
After the interval, Marseille managed to reduce the threat of the visitors on the break, and they created a couple of better openings for themselves. A corner soon after caused a major scramble in the Olympiakos box, but the visitors somehow survived. A diving header from Diarra wasn’t timed quite correctly from six yards, or else Balazs Megyeri, who had a quiet evening, would have been picking the ball from his net.
Olympiakos certainly had moments of their own in the second half, with Mirallas once again the major protagonist. Indeed, a strong burst down the left channel brought another smart save by Mandanda.
The France goalkeeper was looking invincible, but Olympiakos managed to carve out the game’s decisive moment when Francisco Yeste’s superb cross picked out Fetfatzidis, who volleyed into the corner of the net.
Finally, Marseille offered a serious threat, with Loic Remy’s downward header blocked by Megyeri and then Lucho lobbing the follow-up over the goalkeeper to cause the defence further panic.
But that would be the sum total of OM’s response as their mediocre season took another ill turn due to an unexpected but thoroughly deserved loss.
Despite defeat, the French club remain second in the pool, and will start as favourites to progress to the knockout stages. The Greeks will need to beat Arsenal in the final round of fixtures if they're to reach the last 16, while OM can only be overhauled by Borussia Dortmund if they lose by a four-goal margin in Germany.