Football: Marseille in commanding position in UEFA Cup
Second-half goals from Marseille's Benoit Cheyrou, Taye Taiwo and Mamadou Niang grabbed a 3-0 victory over Spartak Moscow to put them in a commanding position
MARSEILLE, France, February 14, 2008 - Second-half goals from Marseille's
Benoit Cheyrou, Taye Taiwo and Mamadou Niang grabbed a 3-0 victory over
Spartak Moscow to put them in a commanding position in their UEFA Cup tie here
After a drab opening 45 minutes where only Marseille striker Djibril Cisse
looked lively, headers from Cheyrou and Taiwo in the 61st and 68th minutes,
and then a 79th-minute tap in from Niang, changed the complexion of this first
leg, round of 32 tie.
Moscow looked like a team which had not played competitively since last
year against Marseille, who qualified for this match after finishing third in
their Champions League group.
However, Marseille coach Eric Gerets was still delighted at the second-half
display which should give the unpredictable French side enough breathing space
to go through to the last 16.
"That was a lot better!" gushed Gerets.
"If we were not happy with the result it would be unfair on the players.
"We're in a good position but you never know," added the former Belgian
national captain, who was part of the excellent Belgian team that reached the
1986 World Cup semi-finals.
Marseille coach Eric Gerets had as expected fielded Cisse and Niang up
front with talented playmaker Samir Nasri just behind them.
Apart from a Cisse header after half an hour, the opening half had little
to draw attention to it with the visitors happy to sit back and look for
possible counter attacks.
From the hour mark however the match exploded into life.
Cheyrou got in on the goalscoring act by heading home - his first of the
season - unmarked at the near post after a pinpoint cross from Nasri on the
right to frenzied applause from most of the 48,000 spectators in the Velodrome
Then from a move following a corner, Marseille went two goals ahead.
Cheyrou, linking up with Nasri, fired over a cross which found Taiwo and he
made no mistake in finding the net with his head.
Then came Niang's goal after he and Cisse completely caught Moscow
flat-footed as they beat offside to race goalwards with only Spartak keeper
Stipe Pletikosa to beat.
A noble Cisse, who could have scored himself, passed to his right to Niang
who sidefooted the ball home for Marseille's third.