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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jan 11, 2009

OM fury over Auxerre match decision

Angry Marseille president Pape Diouf felt there were non-sporting reasons behind the decision to go ahead with Saturday night's Ligue 1 clash at Auxerre.

Diouf was visibly livid when the match was given the green light by officials half an hour before kick-off despite the dangerous conditions at the Stade de l'Abbe-Deschamps.

He was picked up on TV cameras raging at Auxerre president Jean-Claude Hamel, shouting: "We can't play on this pitch - if you want the three points, I give them to you."

Diouf felt his players' health was being put at risk, and clearly felt the officials' decision to play the match was influenced by TV and financial considerations.

"If we want to be logical and sensible about this, this should not be played," he said.

"It is paradoxical to see the referee meet us before the match, hear us say to him that we think we would rather not play and then finally take another decision.

"It seems to me to be linked with other non-sporting criteria."

OM coach Eric Gerets insisted after the match he had no qualms about the contest going ahead, although by that time he had three points safely tucked away.

The Mediterranean club secured a 2-0 victory thanks to Mamadou Samassa's first-half header and a volleyed finish by Mathieu Valbuena after the break.

OM remain unbeaten away from home this campaign and Gerets was thrilled with how his team performed in difficult conditions.

"I was really happy with the first half, during which we employed different tactics, and I was very satisfied with the way we passed the ball around," said the Belgian.

"And I am happy that Samassa and Valbuena got their goals. I was really happy with my strikers because we have injuries there at the moment.

"I would now like to see the team show the same face at the Stade Velodrome as they do away from home. Our supporters really deserve it."

OM move up to fourth - and within four points of leaders Lyon - with the win, and consign to history their shock 3-0 home defeat to Nancy in their last match before the winter break.

They will be a more potent force once chief strikers Mamadou Niang and Baky Kone return from injury but the much-criticised Samassa, a summer signing from Le Mans, is doing a decent job as their replacement in the interim.

The lanky Ivorian, who passed a late fitness test on his injured knee to start, notched only his second goal for the club but is starting to feel more at home in the OM jersey.

"I was a little troubled by my knee at the start of the week but the coach put his confidence in me and I was lucky enough to score here," he said.

"It is the second match in a row I have played in and I am starting to find my rhythm. I hope things are going to continue like this."

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