Marseille offered a glimpse of its attacking potential with a resounding 4-1 win at last-placed Lorient in the French league on Sunday, with new recruits Dimitri Payet and Morgan Sanson among the scorers.
All four of Marseille’s goals were scored inside the first hour, with center half Jorge Rolando and winger Florian Thauvin grabbing the others.
Payet, Marseille’s star signing when he joined for nearly 30 million euros (nearly $32 million) from Premier League side West Ham in January, made it two in two games with a fine finish.
Following a corner, Payet latched onto a pass and – with his back to goal on the right – turned and arrowed a dipping shot into the opposite corner to make it 2-0 in the 19th minute.
Marseille’s new owner, the American businessman Frank McCourt, pledged to make the team successful again when he took over in October and labeled his four-year plan the “Champions Project.”
A lot rests on Payet, who is starting to find his best form now that he is approaching full fitness. He did not play during the end of his spell with West Ham where he was dropped after wanting a move to Marseille.
On this evidence, Marseille looks like having a promising forward line next season – especially if it recruits a top-class center forward.
Payet, Sanson and Thauvin and fellow winger Remy Cabella are all mobile players who like to roam and they combined well with their slick movement – albeit against weak opposition.
Thauvin, who joined Marseille after an unhappy spell in the Premier League for Newcastle last season, scored another spectacular goal, his eighth of the season.
Sanson made a strong break from midfield and back-heeled the ball to Thauvin, who smacked a powerful shot into the top right corner from the edge of the area in the 53rd minute.
Three minutes later, Cabella played Thauvin down the right and his cross found Sanson at the far post for 4-0.
Striker Benjamin Moukandjo pulled a goal back for the home side, which faces defending champion Paris Saint-Germain next weekend.
For all of Marseille’s attacking promise, however, recent matches have highlighted the need to sort out the defense.
Marseille has lost 4-1 to Monaco and 5-1 at home to Paris Saint-Germain since the turn of the year. In midweek, Marseille also lost 4-3 at home to Monaco in the French Cup, ending the club’s last hope of a trophy and making it more difficult to qualify for next season’s Europa League.
The win moved Marseille above Saint-Etienne and into sixth place, one point behind Bordeaux and five behind fourth-placed Lyon, which has a game in hand.
TOULOUSE 1, LILLE 1
Striker Martin Braithwaite won a penalty for Toulouse with six minutes left and then missed it.
The Denmark international’s tame spot kick was too easily read by veteran Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who went to his left and then got up sharply to smother Braithwaite’s rebound effort.
Striker Yassine Benzia equalized for Lille in the 80th minute after imposing center half Christopher Jullien put the home side ahead in the first half.
Toulouse is in ninth place, while Lille is 16th and only three points above the relegation zone.
League leader Monaco plays Nantes later Sunday.