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Midfielder Dmitri Kombarov admitted there was a degree of fortune to FC Spartak Moskva's winning goal at Olympique de Marseille on Wednesday but said the Russian visitors had "earned their luck" after a determined performance.
The French champions dominated the UEFA Champions League Group H opener for long periods, coming close to scoring on a number of occasions in the second half. Visiting goalkeeper Andriy Dykan produced outstanding saves to deny Taye Taiwo and Mathieu Valbuena, before Lucho González nodded a glorious opportunity wide. The game turned in the 81st minute, however, when Kombarov crossed from the left and César Azpilicueta inadvertently deflected the ball past Steve Mandanda.
The own goal had come against the run of play but not out of the blue. Spartak posed OM numerous problems on the counterattack, and Kombarov insists he was always confident they could nick a goal. "
It was a bit lucky because I tried to cross the ball and the defender put it in," the 23-year-old competition debutant told UEFA.com. "But in football you make your luck. If you keep on attacking and trying to score, you never know what can happen."
Kombarov had provided his side's biggest attacking threat from the left flank, combining well with his Brazilian colleagues, Alex, Ibson and Welliton. But the new signing from FC Dinamo Moskva was keen to praise the defence, saying: "The good news is we didn't concede. We've been letting in too many recently, but we showed tonight that when you're solid at the back you always have a chance to win."
Another of Spartak's summer recruits, Aiden McGeady, described the performance as "fantastic". The Irish international added: "Marseille put us under a lot of pressure and had the majority of the possession, but we were solid and we got our reward."
The former Celtic FC winger is now hoping to build on this start. "It's fantastic to get three points – even one away to the French champions would have been good," McGeady said. "Now we'll look to get more points at home to [MŠK] Žilina. But we won't get carried away just yet. One game has gone and there are still five to go."
With Chelsea FC justifying their billing as section favourites by winning 4-1 in Slovakia, Marseille, Spartak and Žilina could find themselves battling for the one spot. Mathieu Valbuena knows losing at home to Valeri Karpin's side could prove costly. "We're disappointed because we've lost to a direct rival," the French international said. "It's frustrating. We showed spirit and determination but we let in a goal at a moment we were in control."
The Marseille playmaker did everything in his power to break Spartak's resistance but both he and his team-mates were foiled time and again. Substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac was especially unfortunate, striking the inside of the post in added time. "Last season Gignac's shot would have hit the post and gone in," lamented Valbuena. "
I'm still asking myself how we lost. They had one shot on target and scored. We had lots but the goalkeeper pulled off miracles or we hit the post. We didn't have any luck."
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