Thauvin strikes late to keep Marseille's top-three hopes alive
Florian Thauvin snatched 10-man Marseille a thrilling 3-3 draw at Guingamp on Friday to keep their hopes of reaching the Champions League with a top-three finish in France alive.
The Europa League finalists are behind Monaco, who occupy third, on goal difference and are one point adrift of second-placed Lyon, who can now secure their Champions League spot with a win at Strasbourg on Saturday.
Marseille will have two chances to qualify for Europe's premier competition next week in Wednesday's Europa League final against Atletico Madrid in Lyon, and if they lose that, on the last day of the Ligue 1 season on May 19.
The away side raced into a 2-0 lead at the Stade de Roudourou inside 14 minutes through Valere Germain's header and Thauvin's 25th goal of the season.
But Clement Grenier pulled one back for Guingamp and equalised from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute after Lucas Ocampos' handball.
Guingamp moved in front in the 70th minute as Jimmy Briand scored another spot-kick after goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was controversially sent off.
But Thauvin struck again to salvage a point and ensure Marseille's fight to finish in the top three will at least go to the final day of the campaign.
Marseille got off to a dream start as Thauvin swung in a perfect cross for Germain, and the forward leapt highest to plant a magnificent header past Guingamp goalkeeper Karl Johan Johnsson and into the bottom corner.
With a home match against Amiens on the final day of the season, this looked to be the tougher of Marseille's remaining matches, but they stretched further clear in the 14th minute.
Argentinian winger Ocampos created space on the wing, and crossed for Thauvin to continue his remarkable campaign with a neat header.
The 25-year-old former Newcastle flop, capped three times by France, is now firmly in the running to receive a call-up to Didier Deschamps' World Cup squad on Thursday.
But the hosts halved the deficit shortly before half-time after a quick counter-attack ended with Briand's shot rattling the crossbar, allowing midfielder Grenier to stab into an empty net.
Marseille struggled to refind their rhythm after the break and Grenier completed his first league double since February 2013 from the penalty spot.
Guingamp should have completed the turnaround on the hour mark, but Briand lashed wide after Jordan Amavi's poor clearance fell to him unmarked inside the area.
But he didn't have to wait long to make amends, as a comedy of errors ended with OM conceding a penalty and Mandanda seeing red.
Centre-back Gregory Sertic's mistake on the halfway line allowed Briand to run clean through on goal, and the forward drew the foul from Mandanda, who was dismissed despite not appearing to have made a deliberate foul.
Briand picked himself up to take over penalty duties from Grenier, and duly sent substitute keeper Yohann Pele the wrong way.
Thauvin had the final say, though, steering home Bouna Sarr's right-wing cross, with both teams missing late chances to win it in a frantic finale.
Marseille will now be hoping that either Strasbourg or Saint-Etienne, who visit Monaco, can do them a favour on Saturday.
© 2018 AFP