OM spoils, Toulouse cracks, Rennes slapped… What to remember from the complicated evening of French clubs

None of the four French clubs managed to win in these Europa League play-offs on Thursday.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial


Reading time: 3 min

Four French clubs are competing in the Europa League, but how many will still be there in a week, after the return play-offs? In any case, none of them managed to take an option by winning in the first leg, Thursday February 15. Marseille (2-2 against Shakhtar Donetsk) and Lens (0-0 against Fribourg) were held in check, when Toulouse failed at the end against Benfica (1-2) and Rennes simply did not exist against Milan (0-3). Here’s what to remember from Thursday’s matches.

OM frustrated at the end of the match

All that for this. Twice, Marseille took the lead against Shakhtar, before being caught and conceding a draw (2-2). In a match relocated to Hamburg (Germany) due to the war in Ukraine, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (64th), author of the opener, and Iliman Ndiaye (90th) thought they would give OM the victory. But as too often, the Marseille club lacked concentration and conceded two goals each time less than four minutes after scoring.

Mykola Matviyenko (68th), after an error of judgment by Jonathan Clauss, and Eguinaldo (90th+3), at the end of added time, punished OM’s generosity. Without being disastrous, this draw has a bitter taste for Marseille, obliged to make the difference on the return to the Vélodrome, while the spiral is negative (no victory in the last six matches).

Rennes sank at San Siro

The support of nearly 8,000 of its supporters at San Siro was not enough for Stade Rennais, swept away (0-3) by AC Milan. Julien Stéphan’s players were overwhelmed in intensity by the pace imposed by the Rossoneri, guided by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, author of a double (32nd, 48th). Rafael Leao (53rd) added to the score in a completely missed start to the second period. Once the outcome of the meeting was sealed, Rennes had a few opportunities, without success.

It will be necessary to achieve an exploit in the return match and win by at least three goals to reverse the score, a performance that no French club has achieved since… November 2001, when Lyon overthrew Bruges (1 -4, 3-0). The round of 16, missed during the last match of the group stage against Villarreal (2-3), now looks like a mirage.

Toulouse clings to its European dream

This Téfécé is decidedly illegible. Very average in Ligue 1 (14th and on the edge of the red zone), Toulouse raised its level in the Europa League, despite its narrow defeat at Benfica (1-2). Solid, the Toulouse team held on and only gave in on two penalties. After a handball from Logan Costa, Angel Di Maria (68th) scored for the first time, before repeating at the end of added time (90th+8) following a sole from Christian Mawissa, sent off instantly.

Infuriating for Toulouse, who returned to the game on a powerful volley from Mikkel Desler (75th) and who, without this cruel outcome, would have obtained an excellent draw. Hope remains one week before the return, to the Stadium, where we will have to win at all costs. What Téfécé hasn’t done since… a previous European exploit against Liverpool (3-2), at the beginning of November.

Lens can blame himself

By pushing the ball into the net in two stages (71st), Massadio Haïdara thought he would validate Lens’ efforts against Fribourg. But Bollaert’s joy was dampened by the VAR, which intervened to penalize an avoidable offside by Przemyslaw Frankowski after a combination from a corner. Rather dominant but ineffective (0 shots on target), Lens missed their chance against Friborg (0-0).

The Artésiens could even have given in on the numerous German counterattacks and were, for example, saved by an angry tackle from Kevin Danso in front of his line (58th). The Sang et Or, returned from the Champions League, remain undefeated at home in Europe this season, but will have to break free away from home to qualify.

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