Marseille’s Hiroki Sakai scores goal on 28th birthday

Kyodo

Japan defender Hiroki Sakai netted a goal on his birthday Thursday as Marseille beat Leipzig 5-2 to book a spot in the final four of the Europa League.

Sakai, who turned 28, scored Marseille’s final goal during injury time of the second leg of the quarterfinal against the German club to secure a 5-3 aggregate victory. Marseille lost 1-0 in the first leg last Friday.

With every Leipzig player, including goakeeper Peter Gulacsi, crowding the Marseille box in search of a late winner on aggregate, the French side gained possession and launched a counterattack, with Sakai shooting into an empty goal on the break.

“I didn’t think I would score,” said Sakai, who returned from a right-hip injury earlier this month. “I noticed the goal was empty, so I just passed the ball inside.”