MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - Olympique de Marseille’s Dimitri Payet set up both goals as he guided them to an impressive 2-0 home win over Salzburg in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.
Florian Thauvin headed in Payet’s free kick after 15 minutes and Clinton Njie calmly slotted home in the 63rd to put Marseille in the driving seat against the Austrian champions.
Payet, making a late bid for a place in France’s World Cup squad with an impressive run of form, has played a key role in Marseille’s run to the last four with five assists and three goals in the knockout stages.
Marseille, who moved midfielder Luiz Gustavo to centre back for the injured Rolando, were quick out of the blocks and Thauvin scored with his 22nd goal of the season, outsmarting his marker to head in Payet’s free kick at the far post.
Marseille stopped the Austrian champions from imposing their usual pressing game and increased their lead just past the hour.
This time Payet was sent clear down the left, cut inside and waited for his moment to lay the ball into the path of Cameroonian Njie who slotted past goalkeeper Alexander Walke.
The goal came just as the visitors seemed to be getting back into the game and a few minutes after Marseille keeper Yohann Pele did well to tip Hannes Wolf’s shot over the bar.
The visitors should have had an away goal near the end but substitute Gulbrandsen struck the post with a volley from close range to leave them with a tough job in the return on May 3.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris