Marseille spanks Spartak to advance
Marseille secured a spot in the Champions League knockout round Tuesday with a 3-0 win over 10-man Spartak Moscow after goals from Mathieu Valbuena, Loic Remy and Brandao.
Mathieu Valbuena put Marseille in the lead in the 18th minute, scoring from 12 meters into the right upper corner of the net. Remy made it 2-0 with a bit of luck in the 54th and Brandao scored the third 14 minutes later.
The win gives Marseille nine points from five games. Spartak has six with one round remaining but can't overtake the French club because of a worse head-to-head record.
Chelsea leads Group F with 12 points from four games and hosted last-place Zilina later on Wednesday.
"I'm satisfied with the way we played and with our team spirit," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said through a translator. "We wanted to reach the knockout stage of the competition and we are now in the last 16. But the win was not that easy."
Valbuena had Marseille's first chance just two minutes into the game but his left-footed shot from Lucho Gonzalez's free kick shaved the far post.
The opener came after Gabriel Heinze redirected Loic Remy's high cross from the left into the center of the box where Valbuena, his back to the net, turned to hit the right upper corner of the net.
Spartak nearly equalized in the 44th, when Brazilian striker Welliton and Dmitri Kombarov were ready to connect to Aiden McGeady's low cross from the left but Steve Mandanda dived and stretched his right arm to deflect the ball.
Remy dented Spartak's chances of a comeback in the 54th thanks to a couple of lucky bounces. He first tried to shoot from just outside the area but mis-hit the ball, which instead looped over the defense allowing Remy to chase it down and score with a shot that hit both posts before trickling over the line.
Spartak was reduced to 10 men in the 64th minute when Welliton was sent off for pushing Souleymane Diawara in the chest in the box after the Brazilian collided with Mandanda.
"It was an even match before the first goal but we lost our chances after Welliton was sent off," Spartak coach Valery Karpin said.
Brandao put the game away with a shot from 22 yards (meters) into the lower right corner of the net.
Brandao was close to scoring a second goal four minutes later but his shot from inside the box went just wide of the right post.