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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Barthez returns to Marseille in style

Barthez returns to Marseille in style

January 04, 2004 16:59 IST

France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez celebrated his Olympique Marseille return by saving twice and scoring once as his team beat RC Strasbourg 4-3 on penalties in their French Cup first round tie on Saturday.

The two Ligue 1 teams had been deadlocked at 1-1 after extra time before Barthez palmed away Strasbourg's third kick and then dived full length to block a powerful shot from Senegalese striker Mamadou Diang.

Barthez, whose loan transfer from Manchester United was approved only the day before, applied the finishing touch by taking his team's last penalty, blasting the ball past Richard Dutruel.

"I had been waiting to return to club football for so many weeks that I felt a lot of pressure," the 32-year-old told French television.

"I had the feeling I was going back to the beginning of my career and I didn't want to disappoint the staff, the players and the fans."

A 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner, Barthez won the 1993 European Cup with Marseille in the first of his three seasons at the club.

He left for a five-year spell at Monaco before moving to Manchester United in 2000 for a world record fee for a goalkeeper of 7.8 million pounds ($13 million)..


He has won two league titles with United, but was dropped by manager Alex Ferguson at the tail-end of last season.

Marseille and United reached agreement on a nine-month loan transfer in October, but FIFA blocked the move because it had not been registered during the transfer window.

In Saturday's two other Ligue 1 head-to-heads, RC Lens beat Le Mans 1-0 and holders AJ Auxerre eased to a 2-0 home win against Sochaux, who had been unbeaten in 14 consecutive matches.

Olivier Kapo opened the scoring for Auxerre on the hour and Teemu Tainio sealed the result in the 77th minute.

En Avant Guingamp were the only top-flight side to lose, going down 5-3 on penalties at fourth division Bayonne.

Bayonne had levelled at 4-4 in the 89th minute of regulation play and managed to hold firm in extra time.

In other matches, Ligue 1 champions Olympique Lyon overran eighth division Aire-sur-la-Lys 4-0, Toulouse beat fourth division Racing Paris 3-1 and Nice struggled to eke out a 1-0 win away to fourth division Moulins.

Jean-Paul Couret
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