It may never go down as the moment Olympique de Marseille launched a miraculous revival to reach the knockout phase, but the Mediterranean side at last have a win to savour in this year's UEFA Champions League after overcoming fellow Group D strugglers PSV Eindhoven 3-0 at the Stade Vélodrome.
The margin of victory also lifted the Ligue 1 outfit above PSV into third spot and leaves them favourites to continue their European adventure in the UEFA Cup next year. Wins at Liverpool FC and against Club Atlético de Madrid in their remaining games could even open the door to something better, but for now coach Erik Gerets will be satisfied with a dominant performance that began with Bakari Koné scoring after 30 minutes and Mamadou Niang adding gloss with two second-half efforts, with Hatem Ben Arfa involved in all three goals.
Having survived fears that the match would be called off due to an earlier downpour, Marseille made an enterprising start, with Ben Arfa hungry to get involved and fit-again duo Niang and Karim Ziani willing collaborators. The rain-soaked pitch made life difficult for both sides, particularly on the wings, but it was from Marseille's right channel that the first tremors were felt, opposition captain Timmy Simons needing to divert a Ziani cross before a similar delivery led to Ben Arfa firing a loose ball straight at Andreas Isaksson.
That gave the home crowd encouragement. However, they ought to have been silenced when Ibrahim Afellay sent in a dangerous centre moments later at the other end. Scorer of two goals against OM last time out, Danny Koevermans somehow slid the ball wide and his miss looked even more costly when Ben Arfa defied the conditions to release Koné with a sumptuous weighted ball in behind the PSV defence. The pacy Ivorian forward sprinted clear, rounded Isaksson and confidently put the hosts in front. That forced the visitors to take a few more risks in the closing stages of the first half and they were soon causing trouble in front of Steve Mandanda's goal, Edison Méndez finding the head of Otman Bakkal in the area and the 23-year-old heading against the outside of the post.
The second period opened in a similar vein, with Afellay bursting down the left flank and spearing the ball low into the middle, where the fingertips of Mandanda denied Koevermans a certain scoring chance. In response, Ben Arfa reminded everyone of his presence, scooping one effort over and scuffing another before kicking off Marseille's second by feeding Koné down the right. With far too much time to select his target, the No14 picked out Niang at the far post and the unmarked striker volleyed in. Four minutes later Koné ought to have put the game beyond doubt, but Simons blocked his goal-bound effort following another superb Ben Arfa delivery. Taiwo had a thunderous strike deflected wide from the resulting corner, but a third goal was not long in coming. Almost predictably, Ben Arfa unlocked the PSV rearguard with yet another perfect pass and stood back in admiration as Niang swept the ball low into the corner.