UEFA Cup holders PFC CSKA Moskva suffered a surprise home defeat by Olympique de Marseille in their opening Group F encounter despite a second-half recovery which almost snatched a point for the Russian side.
Goals from Sabri Lamouchi and Mamadou Niang gave Jean Fernandez's men a deserved half-time lead, but the home side rallied after the interval and missed a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit when Fabien Barthez saved Sergei Ignashevich's spot-kick. Vágner Love pulled a goal back late on, but CSKA were unable to find an equaliser as their campaign got off to a dispiriting start.
Buoyed by their defeat of Paris Saint-Germain FC in Ligue 1 on Sunday, Marseille were quickly into their stride in Moscow and took the lead on 23 minutes, Taye Ismaila Taiwo crossing for Lamouchi to steal in ahead of Miloš Krasić and head past Igor Akinfeev. CSKA looked a shadow of the side which overcame Sporting Clube de Portugal to win last season's final and were restricted to long-range shots as they attempted to get back on level terms.
Marseille kept their shape and then struck again seven minutes before the break. Alexei Berezutski conceded possession to Wilson Oruma on the CSKA left, and the Marseille midfielder crossed for Mamadou Niang to thrash a high shot past Akinfeev.
CSKA, no doubt with the words of coach Valeriy Gazzaev still ringing in their ears, stepped it up after the break and within three minutes referee Kristinn Jakobsson adjudged Taiwo to have fouled Sergei Samodin inside the penalty area. CSKA captain Ignashevich took responsibility from the spot but saw his shot parried by Barthez, the French international diving away to his left to deflect the shot to safety.
Barthez came to Marseille's rescue again after 63 minutes, blocking an effort from Samodin when the striker had found himself through on goal. From the resulting throw-in, Evgeni Aldonin hammered in a low shot which Barthez did well to save, diving low to his right.
CSKA were coming back into the game and earned their reward with ten minutes to play when 16-year-old substitute Aleksandr Salugin, with his first touch, crossed from the right and another replacement, Vágner Love, glanced the ball past Barthez. The hosts resorted to direct tactics in the final minutes as they hunted an equaliser, but Marseille held on for an impressive victory.
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