The charged atmosphere of UEFA Champions League football lifted Olympique de Marseille out of their early-season torpor as they completed a 2-0 Group A victory against Beşiktaş JK.
Unable to win at home in Ligue 1, the French club seemed certain to settle for a goalless draw until centre-back Julien Rodriguez drilled in the opening goal in the 76th minute after Samir Nasri's corner had come back off a post. The Turkish side had defended stoutly up until that point, but were forced to press forward in search of an equaliser only to concede a second in added time when Djibril Cissé drove low into the corner after powering past Lamine Diatta.
Having promised to prove their worth the home side began in busy fashion, with Mamadou Niang particularly hungry early on. The Senegalese international found a willing accomplice in Boudewijn Zenden down the left but it was Niang's individual run that provoked the first chance of the night with ten minutes gone when he won a free-kick in a dangerous position. A low ball into the penalty area eventually fell to Cissé, and the France international fired in a shot which had the sting taken out of it by a deflection.
Despite that effort the visitors hardly seemed flustered and their well-oiled defence soon had Marseille attempting their luck from distance, with Laurent Bonnart and Nasri both missing the target. An injury to right-back Serdar Kurtuluş disrupted their rearguard and after İbrahim Kaş replaced him, Niang headed a fine Karim Ziani cross just over. That was as close as the home side came to scoring in the first half and chances were almost nonexistent at the other end with Beşiktaş content to remain in their own half until good build-up play led to Ricardinho curling narrowly over.
The Brazilian midfielder contributed little more as he too was forced out of the match through injury, meaning Koray Avcı joined the fray moments before the half-time whistle. Losing two players in the opening 45 minutes cannot have figured in coach Ertuğrul Sağlam's game plan but his team came out with more attacking purpose after the break and as they began to leave spaces, Marseille found openings to exploit. Ziani threatened to break the deadlock with a surge down the right and powerful effort which Hakan Arıkan palmed over. Shortly after, the tireless Niang drilled just beyond the woodwork.
That minor flurry would have encouraged Marseille coach Albert Emon, but his team lacked a spark of invention in the final third and Beşiktaş continued to resist stoutly at the back, with İbrahim Toraman particularly alert. He and his team-mates appeared increasingly content with a point as the clock ticked down, yet they were finally undone by Rodriguez's first goal in the competition – proof that fortune favours the brave. Cissé then added the finishing touch to an evening to celebrate for Marseille, who visit Liverpool FC on Matchday 2 when Beşiktaş play FC Porto.
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