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Brandão seals OM progress in thrilling Inter finale

Published: Tuesday 13 March 2012, 22.55CET
FC Internazionale Milano 2-1 Olympique de Marseille (agg: 2-2, OM win on away goals)
Substitute Brandão's 92nd-minute goal took the French side through to the last eight for the first time since winning the competition in 1993.
by Richard Aikman
from Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Published: Tuesday 13 March 2012, 22.55CET

Brandão seals OM progress in thrilling Inter finale

FC Internazionale Milano 2-1 Olympique de Marseille (agg: 2-2, OM win on away goals)
Substitute Brandão's 92nd-minute goal took the French side through to the last eight for the first time since winning the competition in 1993.

Brandão struck moments after his 88th-minute introduction as Olympique de Marseille edged past FC Internazionale Milano and into the last eight for the first time since winning the UEFA Champions League in 1993.

The match appeared headed for extra time when Diego Milito levelled the aggregate scores with 15 minutes remaining, but there was a dramatic twist in the tail of this tie. Brandão scored the all-important away goal and although Giampaolo Pazzini replied with a penalty after an incident in which goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was sent off, the hosts bowed out.

Marseille, deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation, had made a competent start with Stéphane Mbia excelling in a holding role and seeking to catch Inter out with balls over the top for the pacy Loïc Rémy. That plan was almost undone on eight minutes, when Alou Diarra ceded possession with a careless pass. Javier Zanetti raced to the byline and cut the ball back for Wesley Sniejder, whose shot deflected off Souleymane Diawara and straight into the grateful arms of the prostrate Mandanda.

Encouraged by their chance, Inter quickly created another with Sneijder racing on to Dejan Stanković's diagonal pass and supplying a firm left-wing cross that Milito met with his chest. Mandanda made a superb reflex save. The visitors were by no means being overrun, however, and as the match wore on they began wrest the initiative away from their hosts.

An away goal would have left the Nerazzurri with a mountain to climb and Didier Deschamps' charges almost produced one when Rémy headed César Azpilicueta's searching cross just wide, while Jérémy Morel's fizzing long shot narrowly eluded the far upright. Save for a 44th-minute free-kick by Sneijder, which Mandanda held, and a misdirected Diego Forlán header on the stroke of half-time, the Serie A side struggled to find incisiveness; nor did they match Les Olympiens for midfield physicality.

Every time Inter ventured forward it seemed there were two orange banks blocking their path, with Diawara in particular standing strong. Claudio Ranieri reacted by bringing on Joel Obi and Pazzini for Sneijder and Forlán and reverting to an orthodox 4-4-2. The substitutions energised the Beneamata but set pieces appeared to be their best chance of a goal.

So it proved. Shortly after Diarra's header was turned wide by Júlio César at one end, Marseille for once failed to clear a corner at the other and, in the ensuing melee, Milito pounced to prod in. Inter were back in the tie but in added time they were caught out by the simplest of goals. Mandanda's long clearance bounced fortuitously off the back of Brandão, who reacted sharply to rifle low past Júlio César.

There was still time for the Nerazzurri to make it 2-1 on the night, Pazzini scoring a last-gasp penalty after being brought down by Mandanda, but that was the game's last kick. On tonight's showing, OM will sorely miss Mandanda and Diawara in the first leg of the quarter-finals; their celebrations at the final whistle suggested that, for the time being, that mattered not.

Last updated: 27/11/12 3.04CET

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