Olympique de Marseille exited the UEFA Champions League with heads held high on Tuesday night but also with a nagging feeling that a commendable performance at Old Trafford should have yielded more.
The French titleholders went down 2-1 to Manchester United FC, losing their last-16 tie by the same aggregate scoreline, yet as midfielder Lucho González admitted, they had the chances to record more than the solitary late goal gifted them by Wes Brown's header into his own net. "It's a painful result because we did well and could have got a different result," the Argentinian international told UEFA.com. "We had clear chances to score and when you're up against a team of their class, if you don't take them it becomes difficult."
The statistics show that United got eight of their 11 goal attempts on target in contrast with Marseille's rather less impressive ratio of three from 12. OM defender Rod Fanni said: "
We've a feeling we could have gone through. That didn't happen but we had our opportunities – we didn't take them, Man United took theirs and it was the more efficient team that won."
André-Pierre Gignac and Souleymane Diawara both spurned presentable first-half openings as Marseille gradually found their feet following a poor start in which they shipped the first goal to Javier Hernández inside five minutes. "It was the worst scenario, conceding so quickly," continued right-back Fanni. "We didn't do too badly after that but didn't take our chances. We attacked more after the break because we were a bit tense in the first half. We could have got back in the end despite starting too timidly."
Marseille's 4,000 fans at Old Trafford could be forgiven for replaying in their minds the moment in the 74th minute when, with the visitors' pressure building, Loïc Rémy teed up Benoît Cheyrou in the box – the midfielder failing to beat Edwin van der Sar with his low shot. Sixty seconds later United had their second goal as Hernández struck again. "They've got good movement and are very strong on the counterattack," Fanni said of the Premier League leaders.
For Marseille, four points off the summit in France, the focus now will be defending their Ligue 1 title. That was the parting message from Lucho as he sought to highlight the positives from OM's best showing in the UEFA Champions League since 1999/2000. "We left a good impression, which is important, and we have to keep that going in the French championship which is our main objective," he said. "Let's hope we can win the league again."
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