Olympique de Marseille beat Belgian outfit KFC Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen on penalties after 210 minutes of football without a goal in the UEFA Cup first-round tie. Marseille, finalists in 2004, could have secured a rather less nerve-racking passage to the group stage, but failed to convert a number of chances before eventually finding their range in the shoot-out.
Striker Mamadou Niang had a night to forget in front of goal, his profligate finishing marring an otherwise dominant performance from the French side. But Marseille held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out, with Samir Nasri scoring the winning penalty after Sezer Öztürk and Dickson Agyeman had missed for the Belgian side.
Pressure soaked up
Germinal Beerschot more than matched their more illustrious opponents in the opening 20 minutes, comfortably soaking up anything Marseille threw at them. José Delfim had a long-range shot for the hosts on 23 minutes but Luciano had little problem saving the effort.
Niang went close when he picked the ball up in the Germinal Beerschot area, spun on his heels and fired a powerful strike that deflected for a corner. As the half wore on, the home fans became frustrated with their team's inability to unlock the visiting defence, and their anxiety translated onto the pitch as the players appeared increasingly jittery.
Marseille continued to struggle in the second half, enjoying the bulk of possession, but failing to create any clear-cut chances. The breakthrough finally seemed to have arrived when Niang was played through one-on-one, but he shot weakly straight at Luciano. The Senegalese forward had another chance to win it as the 90 minutes drew to a close, but again Luciano denied him.
Substitute Öztürk nearly landed an extraordinary blow for the visitors in the last minute, but Cédric Carrasco bailed Marseille out with a fine save. Extra time presented few opportunities as both sides wearily resigned themselves to the nerve-shredding prospect of penalties, before the home side finally ended Germinal Beerschot's challenge.