Marseille scored a dramatic extra-time decider against Red Bull Salzburg to earn a Europa League final showdown with Atletico Madrid in Lyon on May 16.
Substitute Jorge Rolando volleyed home from a corner in the 115th minute to snatch a 3-2 aggregate victory for the French side, after Salzburg had earlier cancelled out a 2-0 first-leg deficit at Red Bull Arena.
Amadou Haidara, who had started Salzburg’s fightback with a fine individual effort before Bouna Sarr’s own goal levelled matters, was sent off late on as the Austrian team’s hopes ended in frustration and failure.
Salzburg will feel aggrieved at the way they exited the tournament, with the corner which led to Rolando’s goal being awarded despite Andre-Frank Zambo’s 20-yard effort deflecting behind off a Marseille team-mate.
The home side’s players protested the decision but the referee was unmoved and Rudi Garcia’s side made the most of their lucky break to secure Marseille’s first European final appearance since 2004.
It was tough on Salzburg, who had looked set to stage another memorable recovery having turned a 5-2 aggregate deficit against Lazio into a 6-5 victory in the quarter-finals.
There was little sign of that happening during a tepid first half which saw Munas Dabbur – who scored the only goal when Salzurg beat Marseille here in the group stage – come closest to scoring with a low shot that was spilled by Yohann Pele.
That was about as good as it got before the break, but it was a different story in the second half with both teams becoming increasingly adventurous.
Marseille came flying out of the blocks after the restart and Lucas Ocampos fired into the side-netting before the unmarked Valere Germain volleyed wide from Dimitri Payet’s cross.
It was Salzburg who made the breakthrough though, thanks to Haidara.
There appeared little danger when the 20-year-old Mali international picked the ball up some 45 yards out, but a mixture of pace, power and skill saw him charge through the heart of the Marseille defence before poking low past Pele.
That goal sparked the home side and the Red Bull Arena into life, and suddenly L’OM were rocking.
Home centre-back Andre Ramalho came close to levelling up the aggregate scores with a 35-yard thunderbolt that was awkwardly pushed back out by Pele, before Dabbur made a mess of two half-chances.
Salzburg continued to push and they were rewarded with a second goal in the 65th minute.
Haidara’s cross was only cleared as far as Xaver Schlager on the edge of the box and although his shot was going wide, Marseille defender Sarr stuck out a foot and inadvertently deflected it past Pele.
Only a diving save from Pele denied Hwang Hee-chan a third Salzburg goal in 17 minutes as the Austrians continued their onslaught.
Marseille managed to weather the storm though, and they gave the hosts a scare when Florian Thauvin’s looping header hit the top of the crossbar.
The visitors also felt they should have been awarded a penalty with three minutes to go for handball, but that was turned down and the full-time whistle – and extra time – followed not long after.
Pele’s brilliant one-handed save to push out Duje Caleta-Car’s header kept the scoreline unchanged and it looked increasingly like penalties would be needed – until Rolando’s decisive late intervention.
Salzburg could find no way back after that and finished with 10 men as Haidara was handed his marching orders following his challenge on Payet.