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Olympique de Marseille are through to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage courtesy of a clinical defeat of FC Spartak Moskva.
Though the hosts can still finish level on points with Didier Deschamps' team, the French side's better head-to-head record means they will be in the draw for the next round regardless of what happens when the final set of matches are played in two weeks' time.
Marseille had lost their opening Group F game to Spartak in September, but there was to be no repeat on a chilly night in the Russian capital. A clinical display of finishing by the visitors proved to be the difference, as goals from the excellent Mathieu Valbuena, Loïc Rémy and Brandão sealed a thoroughly deserved win against opponents who finished with ten men after Welliton was dismissed on 64 minutes.
OM started the game full of confidence, taking the lead through Valbuena's delightful 18th-minute strike. The French international expertly controlled Gabriel Heinze's ball back into the area from a deep cross, turned quickly and curled a shot past Andriy Dykan. It was just reward for a bright start from the visitors, who could have forged ahead in the second minute when Valbuena shot narrowly wide.
Spartak had started sluggishly and offered little in the way of an attacking threat, but they improved as the half progressed. Welliton, who was quiet early on, was proving a particular handful for the Marseille defence with his pace and movement, but he, like a number of his team-mates, were guilty of producing a poor final ball.
Valeri Karpin's side continued to attack after the break but Spartak's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time since 1996 suffered a killer blow on 54 minutes. The visitors enjoyed a touch of fortune, as Rémy's miscued effort spun over the head of Martin Stranzl, allowing the 23-year-old to hit another shot which struck both posts before nestling in the back of the net.
That left the hosts right up against it and their cause was not helped when Welliton received a straight red card following an altercation with Souleymane Diawara. A man to the good, Marseille made the game, and their place in the next round, safe on 68 minutes thanks to Brandão's left-footed finish from the edge of the area.
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