Marseille march into last 16
Valbuena inspires French champions into knockout stages
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 23/11/10 8:10pm
Marseille's goalscorers celebrate
Olympique Marseille have booked their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages with a 3-0 triumph over Spartak Moscow in Russia.
Didier Deschamps' side will join Chelsea from Group F in the next round of Europe's elite competition after goals from Mathieu Valbuena, Loic Remy and Brandao sealed a memorable win for the Ligue 1 champions.
Spartak, who had Welliton sent off in the second-half, can now only finish third and a place in the Europa League is all that is on offer for the capital club but Marseille march onto bigger and better things.
Tuesday's early kick-off at the Luzhniki Stadium was effectively a two-way shoot-out between the Group F rivals, who were both locked on six points after four games.
Spartak needed a win on home soil to book a spot in the last 16, while Marseille required a success by more than one goal to ensure their place in the latter stages .
A mistake in the Spartak penalty area gave Valbuena an early sighter for the visitors in the second minute but the France international flashed his shot wide after snatching at the effort, unlike the one he took with grace to sink England at Wembley last week.
The hosts were showing signs that they were missing Alex's ability to link midfield into attack in the early stages and Welliton was forced to feed off scraps for large periods.
But the Brazilian striker, who has filled his boots in the Russian league plundering 19 goals this season, demonstrated a turn of pace in the 13th minute to show Stephane Mbia a clean pair of heels and the Cameroonian defender picked up the game's first yellow card.
The match began as a slow-burner, but Valbuena soon gave Marseille lift-off on 18 minutes.
Gabriel Heinze did well to keep Remy's over-hit cross alive as he volleyed a first-time centre to Valbuena, who controlled the ball with his back to goal before unleashing a pearler on the spin that rocketed into the top right corner.
The goal seemed to stir Spartak from their slumber and they seized control of the game with former Celtic winger Aiden McGeady at the heart of the Russians' revival.
On 36 minutes, the home side thought they had a penalty when Welliton was brought down in the box by Cesar Azpilicueta, but German referee Wolfgang Stark waved away their appeals.
McGeady was still in the thick of the action, but it was the man behind the Republic of Ireland international - Evgeni Makeev - who came agonisingly close to supplying the onrushing Welliton and Dmitri Kombarov in the 44th minute. But his low cross was diverted by the palm of goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and neither player could get on the end of the delivery.
The hosts continued on the front foot at the start of the second-half, but nine minutes in Valeri Karpin's side found themselves two goals down to either a moment of genius or fortune from Remy.
You would have to suggest it was the latter from the £12million summer signing as he tried to take Brandao's lay-off first-time with his left-foot but only managed to spoon his effort over defender Martin Stranzl.
The France international made amends though, as his second attempt with his opposite boot struck both posts before nestling into the back of the net.
Spartak were up against it and life got worse for the Russians on 64 minutes as Welliton was shown a red card for a push on Souleymane Diawara moments after clattering Mandanda.
The challenge was legitimate on the Marseille goalkeeper but the shove on Diawara deserved punishment, despite an unchecked knee in the back from the defender.Marseille twisted the knife and victory was confirmed four minutes later as Brandao took advantage of some sloppy passing in the Spartak midfield to hammer home his first goal since April.
|Spartak Moscow||Team Statistics||Marseille|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|0||Shots on Target||4|
|1||Shots off Target||4|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 23rd Nov - Group F
Spartak Mos0 - 3Marseille
Chelsea2 - 1Zilina
Tue 23rd Nov - Group E
Roma3 - 2Bay Munich
Basel1 - 0Cluj
Tue 23rd Nov - Group G
Ajax0 - 4R Madrid
Auxerre0 - 2AC Milan
Tue 23rd Nov - Group H
Braga2 - 0Arsenal
Partizan0 - 3Shak Donetsk
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|2||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H