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AC Milan set their shaky domestic form to one side to get their UEFA Champions League campaign off to a winning start, overcoming old foes Olympique de Marseille 2-1 thanks to two trademark Filippo Inzaghi strikes.
The Group C rivals last met in the very first final of the UEFA Champions League era in May 1993, but while the French club won that game 1-0, they were second best on home soil against a Milan side boasting just one win from three Serie A outings. Making his first start of the season, Inzaghi made the most of lax marking to break the deadlock just before the half-hour mark and he was at his predatory best to clinch all three points with 16 minutes remaining, after Gabriel Heinze had revived local hopes shortly into the second half.
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps opted to field an attacking 4-4-2 formation to accommodate newly fit summer signing Lucho in a creative role behind Mamadou Niang and Brandão, and in torrential rain his side made early inroads. Brandão's physical presence quickly posed problems and Niang fired the first real chance over when released down the right, but that came after a moment of real danger at the other end, Charles Kaboré eventually clearing in extremis after the had ball rebounded goalwards following a series of deflections from a corner.
That incident revealed a certain hesitancy in the Marseille defence and Milan profited to full effect to open the scoring after 27 minutes, Clarence Seedorf justifying his selection ahead of Ronaldinho by turning inside Kaboré and angling an excellent cross from the left towards the far post, where the unmarked Inzaghi finished at point-blank range. As if ignoring Inzaghi once was not foolish enough, the home side then allowed him a free header from an Andrea Pirlo free-kick, though this time the veteran predator failed to profit.
Reduced to shooting from distance, in contrast, Marseille nonetheless came close to ending the half on level terms, Benoît Cheyrou rifling Brandão's knock-back towards the top corner, only for goalkeeper Marco Storari to turn his effort over. They began with renewed energy after the interval too, Lucho volleying narrowly wide before Heinze sent the crowd into raptures by rising to head in Cheyrou's free-kick.
With the locals now in full voice, Deschamps's troops sought to add a swift second, Lucho sending a shot over and Niang just failing to find Brandão after racing on to his own back-heel between Thiago Silva and Gianluca Zambrotta. Lucho then came close to scoring in spite of himself, the ball bouncing wide off his right boot after a Taye Taiwo centre had taken a deflection, but it was Milan who went ahead, Inzaghi beating his marker to arrow in another expert Seedorf cross from the left. His side will now look to build on their winning start at home to FC Zürich on 30 September, when OM face a daunting trip to Real Madrid CF.
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