The hopes of Red Star FC 93 to manifest their aim to become the second Parisian football club experienced a blow Saturday night as they were soundly beaten by Olympique Marseille in front of almost 51000 spectators in the French Cup. Marseille were resting a few first team players but nonetheless controlled the game throughout but Red Star had their chances but were unlucky in the final pass or simply not clever enough.The atmosphere was splendid for a cup tie that pitched a club from the lower regions of the French third division and l’OM, one of France’s most distinguished teams against each other. For the entire game the Marseille Ultras made themselves heard, not always to the enjoyment of the neutrals or the PSG fans present and who started verbal exchanges, threw missiles and fireworks into the Marseille sector.
From the off, l’OM controlled the game comfortably and rarely looked troubled by Red Star. Within the first ten minutes however, Red Star had a chance on the break when they started a move from their own goalkeeper which l’OM could only stop by conceding the first corner of the game. From that l’OM started their own attack and had a corner as well but could not take any advantages from it. Red Star certainly surprised Marseille with their quick and fluid passing through midfield which kept the defence on their toes during the first half but also with their solid and robust defending which made any clear cut chances for the hot favourites from the south a rarity.
With 25 minutes gone Marseille nearly opened the scoring after a scramble in the Red Star area saw a loose ball hit the post and the rebound saved by their goalkeeper, Mathieu Gorgelin. It was his saves and the awful finishing that kept the game open for the majority of the first half. However, the inevitable happened when Red Star were almost through the first half without conceding when Jordan Ayew struck home from 8 metres after a cross from the left took a deflection and the ball fell to his feet.
What followed was an eruption of the whole stadium. It was 1-0 to l’OM against Red Star but it was as though it was 1-0 against the French capital as the majority in the stands cheered Marseille.
From the kick-off Red Star started the last attack of the half and were almost rewarded, the cross failed to connect with any heads or feet and was put behind for a corner which was headed over.
The lead for Marseille was deserved as they easily controlled the game but it was not as easy as some might have expected as Red Star were well organized and disciplined and held Marseille at bay for most of the first half. They gave the visitors a real game and created chances but either the final pass went astray or were simply not quick enough.
The second half was just as the first: Red Star defending, Marseille trying to find gaps to score. However, the game saw more interruptions now as the number of fouls increased rapidly and the flow of the game appeared to have gone, which certainly helped Marseille. Yet, it was Steve Marlet for Red Star who had the chance to make it 1-1 and game on again. Again, the defence of l’OM was unhinged by simple passes and suddenly Marlet was through on goal and Mandanda had to stretch to save the shot.
Red Star held out until the hour mark, when Valbuena scored a beautiful volley from 15 metres after a cross from the right was headed away, but not far enough. Valbuena had no troubles to convert as he was left unmarked in the area. This took all the menace out of Red Star’s play and they simply wanted to keep the score like that. However, fatigue had the final say as Marseille struck three times within the last ten minutes of the game. Thus, it appears as though it was a walkover for l’OM but it was certainly not. The score line betrays a fine performance by the underdogs.