Olympique de Marseille placed one foot firmly in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup by scoring three times in a stellar second-half showing against FC Spartak Moskva at the Stade Vélodrome.
OM took a while to get going in an engrossing last-32 first leg but Benoît Cheyrou's 62nd-minute goal settled them down, and they were irresistible thereafter. Taye Taiwo and Mamadou Niang, both recently back from African Cup of Nations duty, added further goals as Spartak wilted to leave their hopes of qualification in tatters.
The Russian club are in between domestic campaigns, so it was something of a surprise to see them start the better against a Marseille side who are in superb form in Ligue 1. The visitors did not create too many chances – aside from Aleksandr Pavlenko's low drive which flashed just wide – but they kept possession well and frustrated the home team. Marseille gradually got on top, though, and by the end of the half they were peppering the Spartak goal.
Left-back Taiwo's free-kick was just off target and, on the half-hour mark, Djibril Cissé had a header acrobatically tipped over by goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. The France forward then dragged an effort wide from the angle while Mathieu Valbuena curled a long-range strike straight at Pletikosa. It was more of the same after the break and Cissé should have put OM ahead when he was set free by substitute Charles Kaboré. But one-on-one with Pletikosa, the 26-year-old's weak shot was saved.
Cheyrou spared Cissé's blushes with the opener, the midfielder ghosting into the area and neatly heading in Samir Nasri's floated cross. Taiwo made the game safe by leaping highest to nod in a Cheyrou right-wing cross six minutes later, and Senegal forward Niang completed the scoring by tapping into an unguarded net after unselfish play by Cissé with eleven minutes to play.
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