Once again starting this Thursday evening in Greece for OM’s return match against PAOK in the Conference League quarter-finals, Steve Mandanda was simply exceptional.
This Thursday noon, we tell you about the new life of Steve Mandanda. That of a doorman stripped of his place as number one at Olympique de Marseille and his place in the France group. A situation that does not suit him, of course, but that he tries to take positively. Luckily, the European evenings are for him and not for Pau Lopez.
This Thursday evening, in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, against PAOK, he was again a starter for his 99th European match in the blue and white tunic. He also chained his third match in a row (first leg against PAOK, Ligue 1 match against Metz and therefore that of this Thursday evening). The Olympians did the job by chaining an eighth straight victory and still no defeat this season for Mandanda.
Soon his 100th match in Europe
But this Thursday evening, in the coldness of a Greek evening, we obviously owe the victory to Dimitri Payet and especially to Il Fenomeno (1-0). If he is not injured by then, he will play his 100th European match in the Netherlands, against Feyenoord Rotterdam in the first leg of the C4. The French international, and world champion in 2018, was huge against PAOK when honestly, there was nothing to fear.
From the 10th minute, the goalkeeper comes out quickly in front of Akpom and diverts for a corner. In the aftermath, Crespo sends a stung header, again repelled by Mandanda. OM put their foot on the ball, the Greeks slowed down and their stadium calmed down. At the end of the first period, a new big Steve was needed. First on a strike on the ground from Lefteris Lyratzis (42nd) then on a corner which follows by taking as much space as possible in front of goal (45th). It was time to come to the break.
A premonitory Payet
20 peaceful minutes in the second half before bringing out the big game in front of Zivkovic, whose shot from 20 meters would end up in the vent (70th). Colak, he must have been afraid of the exit of Mandanda since he lost his one against one by sending the ball out of bounds (83). The show was not over since the last bastion of OM won again in front of Mitriță (89th). You will have understood it, there was a great man, this Thursday evening, at OM.
Dimitri Payet was far from surprised at the broadcaster’s microphone: ” Steve is the captain of this team, he knows this kind of match and when he is like that, he is fantastic. I saw the first saves and I knew we wouldn’t concede tonight “. Jorge Desio, Sampaoli’s assistant, was present at the press conference and also greatly appreciated the performance of his goalkeeper.
” Steve, but that he does great performances. We trust him, as always. We have two great goalkeepers. When Steve has played, the last six seven matches, he’s done it amazingly “, explained the number two of Sampaoli, soon followed by Cédric Bakambu: ” he’s always been a great goalkeeper, he showed it tonight. Great performance, clean sheet, well done to him and the team. Special mention for him tonight “. With such a goalkeeper, OM frankly do not fear much in the European Cup this season…