By Matthew Spiro in Marseille
Olympique de Marseille coach José Anigo described his side's single-goal win against FC Internazionale in the UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg as their best performance since he took charge in January.
The French side dominated the match but had only Didier Drogba's 46th-minute strike to show for their efforts, and Anigo admitted he is concerned that they will live to rue a series of missed chances.
"The overriding feeling I have now is one of frustration," he said. "I'm delighted with my players - tonight they put in their best performance under me. But we did not make our superiority count. If we'd managed to score one or two more goals we'd be in a very strong position. As it is, the tie is still 50-50."
Without Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' and Steve Marlet, Anigo opted to play Camel Meriem and Laurent Batlles in an advanced role behind lone striker Drogba and his decision paid dividends as the creative pair frequently found space in front of the Inter defence. "It was a system that we were forced to use," explained the Marseille coach. "To beat a team like Inter you have to have the right system. Tonight it worked and that’s thanks to my players who were very disciplined and carried out my instructions to perfection."
The one negative on an otherwise satisfying night for Marseille was that their match-winner Drogba, who now has 29 goals this season, will miss the second leg after picking up a yellow card following his goal celebration. Nonetheless, wing-back Manuel Dos Santos believes Marseille can progress to the last four, telling uefa.com: "Of course it is a major blow for us.
Didier showed again tonight what a class player he is, but we have other players who can win games. He is feeling very down and we'll be trying to win the tie in Italy for him."
Inter coach Alberto Zaccheroni gave a wry smile when asked if he was relieved that Drogba would not be playing in the second leg, saying: "Drogba was exceptional tonight. He caused us many problems and kept all three defenders occupied on his own."
Nevertheless, Zaccheroni claimed he would not be worrying about the Marseille attack ahead of the return. "We made the mistake of worrying about it tonight," he said. "Instead we should have been concentrating on our own game. For the second leg I will not be thinking about Drogba or the Marseille attackers, I will be thinking about their defenders because we will be obliged to attack."
Marseille defender Brahim Hemdani was rarely troubled by Inter strikers Christian Vieri and Obafemi Martins, but is expecting a busier night in the San Siro. "They will have the fans behind them and that always makes a difference," said Hemdani. "It might have looked as though I had an easy night against Vieri and Martins but I can assure you it was very demanding. You always have to be on your toes against those kind of players. They gave us a warning of what they can do with a brilliant one-two that almost led to a goal before half-time."
Hemdani still believes that Marseille will complete the job next week. "We are gaining in confidence every week at the moment," the captain continued. "Recent wins against Liverpool [FC] and Olympique Lyonnais have given us fresh belief and if we keep playing like we did tonight we could go far in the UEFA Cup."
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