MARSEILLE - Steve Mandanda lived
up to his growing reputation as one of Europe's top goalkeepers with
a brilliant performance in Olympique Marseille's 3-0 home win
over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The French number two prevented the German champions from
capitalising on any of their clear chances, denying Mario Gotze
on several occasions with lightning quick saves.
Mandanda remains behind Olympique Lyon's Hugo Lloris in
Laurent Blanc's national set-up but the France coach would have
been encouraged by the goalkeeper's man-of-the-match display at
the Stade Velodrome.
Asked what he thought of Mandanda's performance, Borussia
coach Jurgen Klopp's grin gave away much more than his worded
"He is a very good goalkeeper," he said.
Mandanda showed quick reflexes to snaffle a chance when he
dived at the feet of Gotze early on and in the 18th minute,
spectacularly blocked the German midfielder's goal-bound attempt
with his leg.
With Marseille leading 1-0 at half-time, Borussia stepped up
a gear after the break and for a 15-minute spell, the hosts
looked vulnerable at the back but Mandanda denied Gotze twice
"Mandanda was truly awesome. He is a great keeper and he
proved it tonight," France midfielder Alou Diarra said. "He has
the ability to pull great saves in the most important games."
Mandanda has overcome a slow start to the season and played
himself into form, saving a penalty at Valenciennes in a Ligue 1
match last weekend to help Marseille avoid defeat.
Didier Deschamps' side may have only won once in eight
league matches this season but they have started well in the
Champions League with two wins from as many matches and team
morale is improving.
"It's good to know we can rely on a great Steve," Diarra
"He is a great keeper. He has been saving us a lot of points
lately," midfielder Charles Kabore added.
Mandanda, who was awarded a 9/10 ranking by French sports
daily L'Equipe - a very rare score - opted to praise his
team's overall performance rather than bask in personal glory.
"It's good to be in good shape but it's our collective
display that helped us tonight," he said.
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