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FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk were left ruing a succession of missed chances as Olympique de Marseille held out for a goalless draw in Ukraine, moving through to the UEFA Cup fourth round 1-0 on aggregate.
Despite starting with prolific striker Didier Drogba on the substitutes' bench, the visitors looked in control in the early stages, posing a number of problems for the home side. However, Dnipro goalkeeper Viacheslav Kernozenko did well to cope with a succession of crosses into his penalty area in the opening minutes.
On 22 minutes, Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' had a chance to open the scoring for the French side, but his header from five metres out was well held by Kernozenko. Four minutes later, Ruslan Rotan was on hand to clear off the line as Marseille forward Steve Marlet looked certain to score a valuable away goal.
Dnipro strike back
Having survived those two early scares, the home side poured forward in search of the goal that would have levelled the tie overall. The Ukrainian side could have taken the lead on the night two minutes before half-time as Ruslan Kostyshyn collected a loose ball inside the Marseille penalty area, but his shot hit the side-netting.
In added time at the end of the first period, Dmytro Mykhailenko had another chance to break the deadlock, but he failed to find the empty net from two metres from Kostyshyn's cross.
Rotan off target
Shortly after the restart, Rotan made a fine burst down the right, only to send his shot fractionally over the crossbar. Moments later, the Dnipro midfield player tried a curling shot from the edge of the penalty area, but again his strike lacked precision.
Marseille might have put the tie beyond the reach of the home side in the 56th minute as Laurent Batlles was left one-on-one with Kernozenko, but his shot, aimed for the far corner, was spectacularly saved by the former FC Dynamo Kyiv goalkeeper. At the other end, Olexander Rykun crossed for Serhiy Nazarenko nine minutes later, but the midfield player was unable to connect.
Oleg Shelayev also failed to convert moments later as he was unable to beat Barthez when clean through. Although Dnipro were on top in the later stages, they were unable to make the breakthrough and Marseille held on to progress. "To be honest, I did not expect it to be so hard for us," said Marseille coach José Anigo. "But whatever ends well is good."
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