Marseille will take a narrow 1 goal lead back to the San Siro, after a last gasp goal from Andre Ayew give les phoceens a 1-0 victory at the Velodrome.
In the first leg of this last 16 clash, in the Champions League, Marseille lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Azpilicueta, Morel, Brandao and Cheyrou returning to the side that drew against Valenciennes. Marseille started the brightest, creating a number of half chances in the early exchanges. The forward 3, most notably Amalfitano were finding space down the wings, but were not able to provide Brandao with anything to really attack.
As the first half progressed Inter began to see more of the ball and regularly counter attacked with pace down the flanks, getting behind Azpilicueta with alarming ease. The high defensive line that OM were playing did not help this matter, however, Cheyrou and Diarra did their best to get back and support.
Marseille’s best chance came from a well delivered Valbuena free kick, curled in towards the goal and Brandao flicked it on to Diawara’s chest and the ball bounced harmlessly out of play.
Although there were no changes for OM in the second half, they started strongly again. Amalfitano was finding more space down the right hand side and with the support of Azpilicueta, Marseille targeted Inter’s left side during almost every attack. Often the ball was played in too early, or the cross was too deep, but at least OM were looking interested.
During the middle part of the second half, Inter began to push on more. They threatened Mandanda on a few occasions, forcing corners and set pieces in dangerous areas. Inter began targeting Morel in their attacks, as Azpilicueta was having a tremendous 2nd half. Unfortunately, Azpi took a bad knock and had to be replaced by Fanni, who was excellent both in defence and, as he has shown previously, going forwards.
Marseille were beginning to look a little stagnant, and gave the distinct impression that they would settle for a draw. The introduction of Jayew and Kabore for Cheyrou and Brandao, didn’t bring about as much of a change in performance as Deschamps would have hoped.
Time was running out, Andre Ayew had a few half chances, his brother also, but none of the attempts really made Cesar work and he hardly moved as most shots were at him. But in the 92nd minute he couldn’t move and Marseille scored. Andre Ayew had cut in from the left and let out a brilliant outside of the left-foot shot that won a corner. Corner swings in, Ayew rises at the near post, ball connects with head. Suddenly the world has went into slow motion, you can see the burst of perspiration off Ayew’s head, you can hear the aging Inter’s joints creaking and everyone in the Velodrome draws a breath. It looks like it going in, the ‘keeper hasn’t moved, it hits the back of the net. GOAL! With the last chance of the game, Marseille came good.
Looking back, if one team was going to win the tie it had to be Marseille, they looked far more interested in the win, whereas Inter would have gladly settled for a draw judging by how they set themselves up defensively.
MOTM – Amalfitano – Since awarded with a France call up for his consistent form, he was Marseille’s main threat all night. Valbuena had started lively, but difted out of the game. Andre Ayew started quiet but grew into the game. Amalfitano was a constant thorn in Inter’s left side. Not blessed with blistering pace, he often crosses early and from deep, which hasn’t always supported OM’s strikers, however as his confidence grew, he was happy to get into excellent positions and unselfishly play in others players. Credit to Valbuena, Azpi and Fanni for supporting but Amalfitano would hold the ball up well and play in excellent passes to them.
Special Mentions –
Azpilicueta – Gifted Inter too much space in the first half at times, which did lead to a number of chances, however, he knuckled down in the second and nothing got past him. His improvement lead to Inter having to look unsuccessfully elsewhere for a weak-point, which thankfully wasn’t found.