PSV Eindhoven breathed new life into their UEFA Champions League campaign as two second-half headers from Danny Koevermans secured a crucial victory against fellow Group D strugglers Olympique de Marseille.
The first half was keenly contested by two teams seeking their first point, Stijn Wuytens and Otman Bakkal going closest for PSV while Mamadou Niang and Hatem Ben Arfa threatened for their opponents. The picture was markedly different after the interval as the home side seized control yet spurned a series of golden opportunities. Just when it looked as if their profligacy would cost them dear with the game moving into the final 20 minutes, however, Koevermans nodded in from a corner and, with Marseille pushing forward, wrapped up the win in the closing stages.
Bakkal, recalled by PSV coach Huub Stevens to add some midfield creativity, swiftly broke free on the right and crossed low into the box for the unmarked Wuytens. The Belgian teenager blazed high over the crossbar though the chance proved a misleading indicator of the early exchanges as Marseille began to force the pace. Niang headed Karim Ziani's corner straight at Andreas Isaksson before Ben Arfa drilled a low shot from just outside of the area against the goalkeeper's legs and Niang, in a near identical position, shot just wide.
PSV responded in kind, Bakkal finding space inside the visitors' area from Jérémie Bréchet's long pass and turning past Lorik Cana only for the legs of Steve Mandanda to rescue Marseille. Bréchet was then involved at the other end, bringing a halt to Ben Arfa's weaving run with a brave block. The tempo was relentless, both sides pushing forward at every opportunity and a goal seemed inevitable, but the last chance of the opening half came to nothing when Niang elected to shoot wide rather than passing to the better-placed Bakari Koné.
PSV resumed at a blistering pace and could have scored twice in the early stages of the second half, Bakkal creating the first chance with a low cross from the right only for Ibrahim Afellay, with the goal at his mercy, to blaze over from three metres out. Moments later Wuytens did exactly the same from an Edison Méndez cross and when Mandanda turned a stinging Afellay effort round the post and then acrobatically tipped over Koevermans' header, the home side might have been forgiven for thinking it was not going to be their night.
Nevertheless, the Marseille defence was creaking under the relentless pressure and finally gave way with 19 minutes left, Koevermans rising highest to head in Afellay's left-wing corner. Forced to commit more men forward, Marseille were unable to turn the tide and their challenge was finally ended with five minutes left. This time Méndez was the architect, delivering a cross that was met by the head of the diving Koevermans. That took the home side to within four points of Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid ahead of the reverse fixture in France on Matchday 4 when Marseille know defeat would end their European campaign for the season.