Needing nothing short of victory to keep themselves in contention for progress from UEFA Champions League Group C, Olympique de Marseille duly delivered with an emphatic triumph against FC Zürich.
Marseille had emerged victorious in the teams' first meeting on Matchday 3 and they picked off their Swiss rivals once again to move to within a point of section leaders AC Milan and Real Madrid CF, three ahead of Zürich. Fabrice Abriel prompted the initial blows with a pair of free-kicks inside the opening eleven minutes, the first being turned in by Zürich midfielder Silvan Aegerter and the second nestling in the net without a touch. That left the 1993 European champions looking entirely comfortable, but doubts crept in after Alexandre Alphonse struck for the visitors and it took an expertly taken Mamadou Niang goal on 51 minutes to settle the encounter, before Hilton, Benoît Cheyrou and Brandão registered late on.
Zürich coach Bernard Challandes had urged his players to "introduce a little madness" in southern France, but he is unlikely to have meant they should concede a third-minute own goal, which is precisely what happened when Aegerter glanced an Abriel free-kick past goalkeeper Johnny Leoni. It was just the start OM had hoped for, on the other hand, and they exposed the visitors' nervousness at set-pieces again just eight minutes later, as Abriel's delivery from a similar position on the left evaded everyone – including a bamboozled Leoni.
Galvanised by such a telling start, Marseille began to display a swagger rarely seen on recent UEFA Champions League nights, with fit-again Cheyrou forcing Leoni to tip over after setting himself up by playing the ball back over his own head and away from opposition attentions. An unmarked Brandão then blasted Bakari Koné's low cross over from close range, and if that hinted at a return to type for the hosts, they had their lead reduced from Zürich's first real attack. Served on the edge of the area by Dušan Djurić, Frenchman Alphonse squeezed between two defenders before blasting low to the left of Steve Mandanda.
OM's response came in the form of yet another free-kick, Leoni this time palming wide as Souleymane Diawara attempted to hook Cheyrou's delivery into the top corner. Their opponents had regained composure, however, and nearly levelled when Onyekachi Okonkwo swerved an effort narrowly wide from distance. Admir Mehmedi then spurned an even better chance right after the break, but it was the home side who registered next, and without a set-piece in sight. Racing down the left channel, Niang played a searching ball in towards Koné and the Ivorian international flicked it up over the FCZ defence for his onrushing captain to finish in style.
Challandes's side were not finished yet, though, and it took an exquisite sliding tackle from Garry Bocaly to prevent Djurić pulling the trigger after he had rounded Mandanda. Spared on that occasion, Marseille promptly went on to give their victory real gloss with Hilton firing in a loose ball after another free-kick, Cheyrou striking gloriously from distance and Brandão turning in Niang's low pass. Zürich now need to win in Madrid on 25 November, when OM will aim to reproduce this display at Milan.