Manchester United FC advanced to their fifth consecutive UEFA Champions League quarter-final after a nervous victory against Olympique de Marseille.
United owed their progress to a goal in each half from Javier Hernández – his first in the competition on home turf – and although Wes Brown's 82nd-minute own goal ensured a tense finish, the hosts had done just enough to advance and leave OM regretting their missed chances. Sir Alex Ferguson's side therefore go into Friday's draw for the last eight.
Sir Alex had said in his programme notes that United could still produce their "fair share of magic" despite Didier Deschamps' suggestion they lacked the fantasy of old. Shrugging off Nemanja Vidić's absence through injury, his team started as if determined to prove their manager right with their two most creative forces, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, combining to excellent effect.
Rooney picked out Giggs on the left to win the game's first corner and after he did so again, he burst forward to collect the evergreen Welshman's return pass and deliver a low ball across goal. Hernández, ghosting in behind his marker, turned in at the far post.
The 4,000 away fans in the East Stand were silenced although they might have had something to cheer when André Ayew's flick released André-Pierre Gignac but the striker's attempt flew high and wide.
United were on top with Rooney working hard to make things happen. He provided one lofted ball that Hernández headed too close to Steve Mandanda and later cut in from the left to test the goalkeeper at his near post. Chris Smalling also went close with a header but the hosts did not have it all their own way.
John O'Shea limped off with a hamstring injury – his replacement Rafael suffered a similar setback in the second period – and with the interval approaching, Marseille began to gain a foothold. Souleymane Diawara was wasteful with a headed opportunity in the 36th minute after Taye Taiwo crossed from the left following a short corner. Loïc Rémy threatened too, flashing a shot just wide.
Rooney and Giggs switched positions early in the second period, the Englishman dropping out wide and almost putting his team-mate clear with one lovely dinked pass. United had conceded only once in the competition prior to tonight but Brown, Vidić's replacement, had hearts in mouths when he miscued an attempted clearance; fortunately for United he got enough of a touch to deflect it away from Lucho González at the far post.
With Marseille applying pressure, Rémy played in a low ball from the right that Benoît Cheyrou met with a low right-foot shot and Edwin van der Sar had to get down smartly to save. Moments later, Hernández got the crucial second. Substitute Antonio Valencia's clever reverse pass put Giggs clear on the right and his low cross was turned in by the Mexican.
With eight minutes remaining Brown headed Mathieu Valbuena's corner into his own net, the ball crossing the line before Paul Scholes could clear, but for OM it was not enough.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.