Friday December 08, 2023

Marseille win Ligue 1 season opener

August 09, 2022

PARIS: Marseille started their Ligue 1 campaign Sunday by defeating Reims 4-1 in Igor Tudor’s first match as coach, while Aaron Ramsey struck on his Nice debut to salvage a point in Toulouse.

After a troubled summer during which Jorge Sampaoli walked out over his unhappiness at the club’s transfer approach, it was a welcome win for Tudor following a turbulent pre-season. “I’m clearly very happy, it’s a clear and deserved victory,” said Tudor.

The former Croatia international was jeered by home fans ahead of kick-off, but an own goal by Wout Faes and debut goals for Nuno Tavares and Luis Suarez lifted spirits at the Velodrome.

Folarin Balogun, like Tavares an Arsenal loanee, replied late on for Reims before Suarez grabbed his second of the evening. “The whistles towards me? I was inside, I didn’t hear them,” said Tudor. “The supporters are always right. We play for them and they do what they want. Football doesn’t exist without them.” Tudor dropped captain Dimitri Payet to the bench, handing debuts to five players including Tavares and Jonathan Clauss, who earned a France call-up with Lens last season.

Clauss was soon involved as Reims defender Faes turned the right-back’s cross into his own net under pressure from Arkadiusz Milik on 13 minutes. Marseille were unlucky not to add to their lead with Cengiz Under and Valentin Rongier hitting the woodwork, but Tavares made it 2-0 with a fine low strike just before half-time.

Colombian forward Suarez, signed from Granada in July, needed just 13 minutes to open his Ligue 1 account, steering home after the ball bounced around the Reims penalty area. England Under-21 international Balogun headed in to cut the deficit, but Suarez ensured it was Marseille’s night by tapping home Cedric Bakambu’s pass deep into stoppage time. Aaron Ramsey scored a minute into his Nice debut after coming on as a second-half substitute to rescue a 1-1 draw away to promoted Toulouse.