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Sampaoli fumes after Marseille slip up at Saint-Etienne

Paris (AFP) – Marseille manager Jorge Sampaoli was unhappy with his team after they went down to a drab 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat at Saint-Etienne on Sunday to miss a chance to tighten their grip on a European spot.

Arnaud Nordin scored the decisive goal at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, latching on to a Wahbi Khazri cross at the end of the first half.

“We really lost the first half, which was very poor on our part,” the Argentine said.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility,” he added. “You can play football badly or moderately, but the first half was not up to scratch.” 

Marseille remain fifth, equal with sixth-placed Lens on 56 points, while Rennes are two points further adrift in seventh ahead of their home match against reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain later Sunday.

Only the top three qualify for Champions League. The fourth-placed team enters the Europa League. The fifth-placed team goes into the newly-established Europa Conference League.

“The team must be aware that we are coming to the end of the season and, whatever the individual interests, my obligation as a coach is to bring everyone together to think about the future of the club, which is to get back to the European Cup, and not to give 40 minutes to our opponent with our passivity,” said Sampaoli.

“We have to be much closer to what we imagine a team that is looking to play Europe to be.” 

Saint-Etienne coach Claude Puel said the difference in the first half was the way his side played.

“We started the game with a great first half which was probably one of our best first halves,” Puel said. “We prevented OM from playing.” 

On Saturday Lyon moved into the Champions League places and kept their slim Ligue 1 title hopes alive as midfielder Bruno Guimaraes scored twice in a 4-1 victory over Lorient.

Leaders Lille beat Lens 3-0 on Friday, while second-placed PSG can move within a point of Lille if they win at Rennes.

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