Europa League: Moumbagna, Henrique, Lopez… The three unexpected heroes of OM qualification

On the eve of the Europa League quarter-final second leg against Benfica, Jean-Louis Gasset warned: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cannot do everything at OM. “Pierre often scores, but the others have the role of helping us as soon as possible. Whether it’s Moumbagna, Ndiaye… People have to take over and we don’t always have the same player for us get out of the rut”. Words which were heard by the players, with unexpected heroes during this victorious quarter-final return, who made us forget the absences of weight (Clauss, Merlin, Rongier…).

It was necessary because, for once, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10 goals in 10 C3 matches) left his hero costume by signing an assist for Faris Moumbagna. Author of the winning shot on goal, the Brazilian Luis Henrique will also remain in Marseille’s hearts, just like Pau Lopez, impassable in the game, then a major player in the penalty shootout.

When Faris Moumbagna took off his bib to enter the pitch, at the hour mark, it is an understatement to say that the Vélodrome was not really excited. In the second half, we had to take risks to score.”, justified Jean-Louis Gasset after the meeting, without this being necessary because, in the meantime, events had proven the Marseille coach right. At the forefront of the attack, Faris Moumbagna rocked this quarter-final second leg.

Arrived this winter at OM from Bodo Glimt (Norway), the Cameroonian is the antithesis of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: a fixation point difficult to move, poison in duels whose power wreaks havoc and opens gaps for his teammates. This physical dejection sometimes excuses him for his lack of efficiency, he who had until then only scored two goals in 11 matches with OM.

Faris Moumbagna celebrates his goal against Benfica in the Europa League, April 18, 2024. (SYLVAIN THOMAS / AFP)

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