Veteran defender Rolando scored deep into extra time to send Olympique de Marseille through to the Europa League final 3-2 on aggregate after a spirited Salzburg side won the semi-final second leg 2-1 on Thursday.
Amadou Haidara’s strike and a Bouna Sarr own goal took Salzburg to the brink of a remarkable comeback having lost the first leg 2-0 but substitute Rolando had the final say and Marseille will meet Atletico Madrid in the final in the French city of Lyon.
Salzburg reached the last four by overturning a two-goal deficit against Lazio and another successful fightback looked on when the Austrian champions took the lead through a brilliant solo strike by Haidara who glided past three players before toe-poking the ball in after 53 minutes.
The goal sparked Marco Rose’s side into life and they got their second little more than 10 minutes later. Haidara’s cross found its way to Xaver Schlager whose shot was going off target until it hit the toe of Marseille defender Sarr and went in.
With the tie level on aggregate, the match went to extra-time and neither side could find an opening, although Salzburg were the more dominant side.
But with four minutes left a Dimitri Payet corner found Portuguese defender Rolando whose low strike beat goalkeeper Alexander Walke and Salzburg had Haidara sent off for receiving a second booking as they chased another goal in vain.
“We are specialists in making things complicated but we have shown that mentally, we were strong,” Payet said. “It’s even more beautiful to qualify like that.
“We knew we needed a goal and we were able to score at any time. It happened late but it happened.”
The set-piece that led to the winning goal was contentious as Salzburg thought the ball had come off a Marseille player last.
Salzburg manager Marco Rose and some of his players argued with the officials following the final whistle.
“I’m sorry for the guys who played their great Europa League season, then we were whistled away by the referee, what am I supposed to do? That’s unbelievable,” Rose said.
“My boys are great,” he added. “They have great characters, we also had the opportunity to win but Marseille is in the final, we have to watch. We are very disappointed.”