Brandao sends Marseille into quarterfinals at Inter's expense

AP, Tuesday 13 Mar 2012

Substitute Brandao’s stoppage-time goal sent Marseille through to the Champions League quarterfinals at the expense of Inter Milan despite a 2-1 loss on Tuesday

Marseille V Inter
Marseille midfielder Alou Diarra, top, jumps over Inter Milan Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic during a Champions League, round of 16, second leg soccer match at the San Siro stadium (Photo: AP)

Inter Milan striker Diego Milito canceled out Marseille’s 1-0 lead from the first leg in the 75th minute and the match looked set to go into extra time before Brandao scored in the second minute of injury time.

Inter still had time to score again through a penalty by substitute Giampaolo Pazzini, but it wasn’t enough and Marseille advanced on away goals after a 2-2 scoreline over the two games.

The French side will have to do without Steve Mandanda in the quarterfinals. The goalkeeper was outstanding against Inter but was sent off in the incident that led to the penalty.

It is the first time Marseille has progressed to the quarterfinals since 1993.

Both sides came into the game with poor attacking records. Marseille had not scored in four games since Andre Ayew’s stoppage-time winner against Inter. The Italian’s side record was even worse. Although it beat Chievo 2-0 at the weekend, that result ended a streak of nine matches without a win in all competitions. Inter had failed to score in seven of those.

Marseille immediately showed it had not come to defend its slender advantage and it could have taken the lead in the opening minutes when first Cesar Azpilicueta put in a decent cross which Walter Samuel booted out before a low shot from Mathieu Valbuena was comfortably saved by Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

Inter had not had a sight of goal but should have taken the lead in the eighth minute when Javier Zanetti forced his way into the right side of the box and slipped the ball to Wesley Sneijder whose shot was brilliantly stopped by Mandanda at point blank range.

The rebound fell straight to Milito, who was also in the six-yard box, but his effort was somehow kept out by a crowd of Marseille players on the line.

That seemed to give Inter confidence and moments later Milito had another great opportunity following Sneijder’s cross but Mandanda again pulled off a brilliant save to deny the Argentine, who had scored 11 goals in his past 12 matches.

At the other end Marseille’s best chance came in the 18th minute when Loic Remy’s header flashed narrowly wide of the left upright.

Marseille had a decent shout for a penalty turned down just before the half hour. With Ayew lying on the floor and his teammates clamoring for the ball to be kicked out, Inter raced downfield and Forlan had a shot on goal but the angle was too tight and his effort was easily saved.

Jeremy Morel went close for Marseille 10 minutes from the break with a long-range effort which took everyone by surprise—not least Julio Cesar—but flew past the right upright.

Inter could have taken a halftime lead as first Sneijder won a free kick in a dangerous position a minute from the break. The Dutchman took it but fired it too central and Mandanda saved comfortably.

Forlan then headed wide of the right hand post in stoppage time.

The pace of the match slowed down at the start of the second half and, with Inter desperately needing a goal, Ranieri brought on Pazzini and Joel Obi for Forlan and Sneijder.

Inter was still struggling to carve out goalscoring opportunities but did win a free kick 20 yards out which Dejan Stankovic fired narrowly over.

Souleymane Diawara was booked for his challenge on Andrea Poli and will miss the first leg of the quarterfinals.

Marseille went close to going ahead in the 68th minute as Diarra headed Valbuena’s free kick goalwards but Julio Cesar did well to tip the effort round his left post.

Inter leveled the tie shortly afterwards. Esteban Cambiasso, who had come on moments earlier, crossed in and although Morel blocked Pazzini’s six-yard effort, the rebound fell straight to Milito to fire home.

The Italian side came close to winning the tie in normal time as first Mandanda acrobatically tipped Maicon’s free kick over the bar before Cambiasso headed over from almost on the goaline.

Maicon had another good chance three minutes from time but he fired a 25-yard free kick over the bar.

Inter was to regret its wasted opportunities as, in stoppage time, Brandao latched onto a long ball and evaded Samuel’s challenge to lash the ball past Julio Cesar.

The match ended on a bitter note for both sides as first the otherwise excellent Mandanda was sent off for a foul on Pazzini inside the box, and then the striker picked himself up to score a penalty that was all for nothing.

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