Back-to-back wins are perfect birthday gift for new Marseille coach Sampaoli

Paris (AFP) – Florian Thauvin and Michael Cuisance struck late goals as Marseille defeated Brest 3-1 in Ligue 1 on Saturday, as Jorge Sampaoli celebrated his 61st birthday with a second straight victory since his appointment as the club’s manager.

“It’s a success that has less to do with tactics than with emotional energy,” said Sampaoli after becoming the first Marseille coach to win his first two league games since Elie Baup in August 2012.  

“It’s a victory won with energy, with will,” the Argentine said. 

“It allows us to work with more serenity. We saw the unity of the group, the joy of winning. Now we have to start improving our game.” 

Arkadiusz Milik combined superbly with Dimitri Payet to score the opener at the Velodrome just before half-time, but Lilian Brassier’s header brought Brest level with 20 minutes to play.

Thauvin swept home first time from Luis Henrique’s pass to restore Marseille’s lead on 88 minutes and Cuisance, who grabbed his first OM goal with a late winner midweek against Rennes, came off the bench to add a third in stoppage time.

“Thauvin’s goal was important,” said Sampaoli. “He came up to me to wish me a happy birthday.”

Marseille climbed up a place to fifth, which offers qualification to the new Europa Conference League competition next season.

“A coach’s struggle is to install an idea,” Sampaoli said. “There will be different results and that’s when we’ll see the level of the team and if it can unite around a common project.”

Payet said Sampaoli’s approach had changed things.

“The coach wants us to attack, that brings this kind of match and three goals,” the midfielder said.

League leaders Lille are unbeaten in 10 games but on Sunday they go to Monaco, who are fourth and had gone 12 unbeaten before losing at Strasbourg last time out.

Defending champions Paris Saint-Germain host struggling Nantes and will again be without the injured Neymar.

Lyon needed a stoppage-time equaliser from Zimbabwe international Tino Kadewere to salvage a 1-1 draw at Reims on Friday.

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