Olympique de Marseille could be on their way to eliminating a second successive Russian club after beating FC Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 in the home leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 16 tie.
The French side accounted for FC Spartak Moskva in the previous round, and were well on their way to adding the scalp of the Russian champions after Djibril Cissé scored twice either side of a Mamadou Niang strike in a blistering 18-minute spell. With eight minutes to go, though, Andrei Arshavin – a scorer when Zenit eliminated OM at this stage two seasons ago – grabbed an away goal to add extra spice to next Wednesday's second leg at the Petrovsky Stadium.
Marseille were full value for their half-time lead having dominated from the start at Stade Vélodrome. Cissé, captain for the night, set the tone by drilling a shot at Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev before Samir Nasri skied an effort when well placed. Arshavin poked the visitors' first chance wide, and they were fortunate not to fall behind when Niang headed a Benoît Cheyrou free-kick against the bar from close range.
By the time the Senegalese international repeated that in added time at the end of the half, his side were ahead thanks to Cissé, who had run on to a diagonal pass from left-back Taye Taiwo and finished clinically. Niang scored the goal he deserved when he picked up a loose ball and curled a superb effort in off the far post in the 48th minute, and the home side then extended their lead further as Cissé collected a Nasri pass and angled a shot into the far corner.
Cheyrou and Cissé were then denied from close range by Malafeev as the visitors just about managed to resist further home pressure. And they scored what could be a vital away goal when Arshavin outpaced Ronald Zubar down the left channel before curling in a neat finish.