FC Zurich 0-1 Marseille: Gabriel Heinze Earns OM First Win
Marseille remained in the hunt to progress to the Champions League group stage as they picked up their first points of the competition this campaign thanks to Gabriel Heinze’s right-footed volley in what was a sloppy encounter against FC Zurich.
The visitors had the ball in the back of the net as early as the third minute when Cheyrou’s freekick from 20 yards out was spilled by Leoni and Brandao bundled the rebound over the line, but the whistle had already gone after two players were adjudged to have been offside when the delivery came in.
The French side continued to dominate possession but their inability to find the killer ball in the final third meant that the Zurich goal was rarely threatened. The hosts gradually got into the game and after 22 minutes, they had their first look-in at the Marseille goal but Gajic’s left-footed drive flew well wide of Mandanda’s right post.
Cheyrou tried his luck again from distance just before the half hour mark after the Swiss side made a hash of a simple clearance, but the OM midfielder could only drag his shot wide.
Neither team were able to string any more than three meaningful passes together before giving the ball away. The lack of clear-cut chances infront of goal was evident and the frustration showed when Okonkwo rifled in a shot from all of 30 yards out which flew horribly high and wide. Lucho was next to hammer an off-target shot towards goal and moments later, Hilton came close for Marseille when he rose high to meet Valbuena’s flick on but he sent his header over the bar from six yard out.
The best chance, however, arrived three minutes before the break when Niang did all the hard work to beat his man out on the right before drilling in a cross for Brandoa, who sidefooted the ball goal-bound from point-blank range but Leoni pulled off a superb one-handed reflex save to keep it out.
Zurich came out firing in the second half and just a minute into the restart, Volanthen arrowed in a curling right foot shot on the edge of the box which Mandanda did brilliantly to palm it over the bar.
Straight to the other end, Brandao pounced on a loose ball, galloped forward and fired in a low cross-cum-shot but it was too heavy for Niang to connect with as it flashed marginally wide.
Despite the bright start to the second period, the game quickly went back into a lull as clear-cut openings dried up and both teams started to look sloppy again. But out of the blue, the deadlock was broken on 68 minutes. Lucho hooked in a deep cross from the right and an unmarked Gabriel Heinze side-footed a clinical volley at the far post past Leoni.
Zurich nearly equalise immediately when Gajic’s freekick from a long way out caught Mandanda off-guard and the shot-stopper had to push the ball away on the bounce while Aegerter flashed infront of him and missed a header by inches.
Mandanda had to show a safe pair of hands towards the tail-end of the game as the Swiss side bombarded his goal with countless crosses and high balls. Tihinen did beat him in the air in the 85th minute but the captain sent his header wide.
Bernard Challandes’ men ended the game strongly as they dominated their opponents but Didier Deschamps’ side held on for their first win and their first points of this season’s Champions League, eventhough Bonnart was sent off late in the game.