Olympique de Marseille concluded their Group F campaign in ideal fashion by claiming a fourth consecutive UEFA Champions League victory courtesy of Brandão's late strike against Chelsea FC.
With first and second places already determined, the French and English titleholders were afforded a rare pressure-free night, but it was the hosts – spurred on by a large, boisterous crowd – who displayed more urgency. Indeed, Didier Deschamps' men were unfortunate not to take a first-half lead, Mathieu Valbuena striking the crossbar and Gabriel Heinze heading in from a fractionally offside position. They got their reward nine minutes from time, though, Brandão stroking home Taye Taiwo's deflected shot to leave OM three points behind Chelsea.
The Mediterranean outfit conceded twice in the opening half-hour of the 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge yet looked to have learned their lesson as they made a fast start here. Benoît Cheyrou had already sent a dipping volley narrowly wide when Valbuena twice went close in the 11th minute, first curling a delicious shot over Petr Čech and against the crossbar, then powering a diving header wide of the near post.
Carlo Ancelotti's charges were struggling to gain a foothold as Loïc Rémy and Brandão missed the target from promising positions as the hosts continued to squander chances. Only in the 21st minute, when Michael Essien tried his luck from long range, did the Blues muster their first attempt on target. Didier Drogba was unusually subdued, although the former Marseille striker might have marked his return with a goal after being set up by Salomon Kalou, stabbing his shot over from inside the box.
With the visitors belatedly getting to grips with the excellent Valbuena, Marseille began to lose their fluidity in open play. The menace remained at set pieces, however, Heinze nodding in Cheyrou's 35th minute free-kick only for the effort to be chalked off. The pace slowed in the second period and only after the introductions of Lucho González and André Ayew after the hour did OM stir back to life.
Ayew was a whisker away from scoring with his first touch, the Ghanaian just failing to connect with Taiwo's cross-shot. The Nigerian left-back tried his luck again nine minutes from time, cutting inside and shooting with his right foot. When the ball deflected kindly off Ramires, Brandão calmly stroked in the winner with his left foot.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.