UEFA Champions League

February 23, 2011



0 - 0

Manchester United

UEFA Champions League

19:45 +00:00, February 23, 2011

Stade VĂ©lodrome, France

Referee: Dr. Felix Brych


    Thanks for joining us and stick with ESPNsoccernet for the report and post-match reaction.


    The crowd kept the energy levels up throughout, but neither side did enough to deserve a goal and it now comes down to the second leg at Old Trafford. If United defend as they did tonight, they should progress.


    That's the end of the game and there wasn't a huge amount of incident all in all.

  • 91'

    Full time

  • 91'

    Nani chips a ball into the area, but it's blocked. Diawara is fouled by Nani and that looks like it'll be the end of the game.

  • 90'

    Valbuena fails to clear the near post again with the corner. Rotten.

  • 89'

    Ayew wins a corner and whips up the crowd.

  • 88'

    Berbatov plays a very intelligent pass towards Rooney as United threaten to break, but sadly the execution is lacking. M'Bia takes possession.

  • 88'

    Valbuena's corner is headed clear at the near post. The corners tonight have been woeful.

  • 87'

    Cheyrou manages to win a corner from Vidic.

  • 86'

    Valbuena manages to slip a ball beyond Smalling at long last, but chiefly because it takes him by surprise: none of his team-mates were anywhere near.

  • 84'

    Another neat piece of play from United sees Fletcher given space to put a cross in on the right, but it's headed away. United are finally playing some incisive football.

  • 83'

    Nani goes on an impressive run from the halfway line but is stopped shortly afterwards by a Diawara foul.

  • 82'

    Berbatov and Nani combine well and come very close to creating something, but Berbatov's lay-off at the end is just a little heavy and Mandanda claims.

  • 80'

    Evra looks to burst past several players and, as has been the case with many others tonight, it ends in failure. Free-kick to Marseille.

  • 79'

    Marseille presumably are looking for a little more creativity as they've barely got beyond the United defence all game.

  • 79'

    Loic Remy comes off to be replaced by Mathuieu Valbuena.

  • 76'

    Fletcher angles a ball towards Berbatov but, although Diawara appears to head it behind, it's given as a goal kick.

  • 74'

    Berbatov sends a pass forwards for Evra and, when it bounces back in his direction, attempts a long-range strike. He gets under it a little, though.

  • 72'

    Paul Scholes is coming on in place of Darron Gibson. No surprise there - United could use some experience.

  • 71'

    Brandao receives the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the area. He flicks the ball out for Remy but the pass sends him wide, and Remy's cross ends up with Van der Sar.

  • 70'

    Edouard Cisse is replaced by Benoit Cheyrou.

  • 69'

    O'Shea sends the ball across goal and Nani flicks it through. It's a poor decision, but comes for Berbatov, whose shot is blocked.

  • 68'

    United break and Berbatov looks to find Nani in the area, but it's easy for Heinze to intercept.

  • 67'

    Remy moves forward with intent and slips it through for Brandao, but Smalling blocks well.

  • 65'

    Nani looks to advance down the right, but M'Bia takes the ball and Nani concedes a free-kick.

  • 65'

    Heinze, determined to prove me wrong, sends in a wretched cross from the left.

  • 64'

    Heinze has been much improved in the second half as Marseille apply the pressure.

  • 63'

    Heinze robs Rooney and Lucho attempts a shot from distance, but Smalling blocks.

  • 62'

    Marseille continue to apply the pressure and Ayew pulls a shot across the goal. This is better from the hosts.

  • 61'

    The corner, taken short, is cleared to the far post and Nani pulls down Heinze for a cheap free-kick.

  • 60'

    Remy drives into the area and his shot, from a tight angle, is deflected behind by Vidic.

  • 59'

    Rooney looks to charge the ball down as M'Bia threatens to allow him in, but the defender recovers.

  • 58'

    Heinze sends an angled pass towards Lucho but Van der Sar is alert to the danger.

  • 57'

    Rooney sticks a leg in to deal with a loose ball and it loops back to Van der Sar, who picks up the loose ball.

  • 55'

    Rooney sends a deep cross to the far post. It evades Mandanda but he's given a helping hand by his defender, Heinze.

  • 54'

    Brandao manages to get a bit of power onto a header from the edge of the box following a lofted pass from Lucho, but that's easy for the 'keeper.

  • 52'

    Van der Sar rises to claim an Heinze cross. Safe hands, if not particularly testing.

  • 52'

    Scholes is now warming up for United.

  • 51'

    Nani's corner is cleared at the near post. We've not had much joy with corners from either side this evening.

  • 50'

    Rooney finds Evra well on the left and United win a corner.

  • 50'

    Valbuena is warming up.

  • 49'

    Vidic seems to be hurt after Brandao swings an elbow into his face. It's not clear how deliberate that was.

  • 48'

    United, after knocking the ball around for a while, send O'Shea down the right flank via a touch from Nani, but his cross can't find a team-mate.

  • 47'

    Ayew runs at the defence and, again, runs into trouble. His decision-making hasn't been the best so far tonight.

  • 46'

    Brandao gets a bit of a kick from behind by Samlling and goes down near the centre of the field.

  • 46'

    Marseille kick off the second half!


    Sir Alex Ferguson admits nothing much has happened so far but added on ITV: "We've had one or two moments probably more than they've had. We're solid enough and it's not an easy place to come to, but we've got the opportunity to win the match."


    Speaking of Twitter, the kids are all 'trending' on Heinze and Fanni apparently. The former, presumably, because he's not done much to suggest he's capable of stopping Nani, and the latter because of his tittersome name.


    He's not wrong. Rio Ferdinand tweeted early in the game to say: "Nani is causing Marseille problems already!" He's been tweeting plenty this evening.


    Andy Townsend, working as a pundit for ITV, says: "United look very, very comfortable. Nani's got Heinze where he wants him."


    We're in need of more quality in front of goal if the deadlock is to be broken. Berbatov's looked a little isolated for United with only Nani threatening to give him some much-needed support, while Marseille just don't look like they know how to beat Vidic and co.


    A half that began with the promise of dynamic end-to-end action turned out to be a half of quite dull end-to-end action.

  • 45'

    That's half-time

  • 45'

    Nani looks to weave his way into space on the right but, while his quick change of direction leaves Heinze on his backside, he follows suit. New studs might be in order for the second half.

  • 44'

    Kabore attempts a hugely ambitious shot, and it's nowhere near the target.

  • 43'

    Nani's corner is pretty disappointing.

  • 43'

    The ref's not happy with some tussling between M'Bia and Berbatov and the corner is delayed.

  • 42'

    United win a corner kick.

  • 41'

    Ayew nearly scores directly from the corner kick, as the ball swerves dramatically at the last moment. Van der Sar does well.

  • 40'

    Smalling stoops to head Remy's cross behind for a corner.

  • 39'

    United force Marseille back, as is becoming the way of things.

  • 39'

    Rooney curls a pass towards Gibson, who can't bring it under control and Marseille break.

  • 38'

    Nani tries a neat little lick, but it doesn't come off.

  • 36'

    Ayew looks to burst past several defenders, but fails. Marseille need to up their game if they want to secure a lead here.

  • 34'

    Evra puts a potentially dangerous low cross in from the left flank, but he can't pick out Berbatov.

  • 33'

    Smalling hacks the ball clear as Lucho looks for Brandao.

  • 32'

    Berbatov comes close to meeting an inviting Nani cross, but it's just too close to Mandanda.

  • 31'

    Rio Ferdinand has been telling his 'tweeps' that the Marseille whistles are encouraging Evra: "Fans don't realise when they boo you it inspires you more than anything! Come on Pat Evra help silence them boo boys!!"

  • 30'

    O'Shea plays a cross from high up the right wing, but it's headed clear.

  • 29'

    Lucho finds Brandao on the edge of the area, and he chests it and attempts a tame scissor-kick. We're still in need of a little more attacking quality if we're going to see a goal here.

  • 27'

    Berbatov runs clear from the corner - a wretched effort that fails to clear the first man.

  • 27'

    Marseille break away and win the corner.

  • 26'

    Nani latches onto a long throughball but slips at a vital moment and - even though he's given a second bite - the chance is lost.

  • 24'

    Ayew attempts a shot but Vidic blocks it. Marseille are certainly on top at the moment, but they've done nothing to suggest the breakthrough is imminent.

  • 23'

    Evra rises to meet a deep cross ahead of Brandao. Nothing too dangerous there, though.

  • 22'

    Fanni looks to make something happen down the right and sends in a deep cross. It ends up coming back to him and he plays a terrible forward pass.

  • 21'

    Fletcher chases down the ball and Rooney plays a crossfield ball for O'Shea, which goes out for a throw-in.

  • 20'

    Remy sees a cross deflected off Vidic into the hands of Van der Sar. Not a lot happening really for the time being.

  • 18'

    Heinze puts in a cross from the left, but it's headed clear.

  • 17'

    Rooney shows a bit of skills to thrust clear of Brandao down the left... but then dribbles straight out of play.

  • 15'

    The crowd are still generating a strong atmosphere - largely made up of whistles whenever the visitors take possession - and it's injecting some energy into the match even as chances have died down.

  • 14'

    Kabore plays an optimistic ball through, which ends up in a comfortable catch for Van der Sar.

  • 13'

    Berbatov almost nicks the ball away for a break, but it comes through for Diawara.

  • 13'

    Marseille are currently holding onto the possession in the centre of the park and allowing United to do a bit of the chasing.

  • 11'

    Nani races away down the right - again - and his cross comes to Rooney, whose shot is blocked. Evra attempts to put it back in, but to no avail.

  • 9'

    Nani shows his pace to latch onto a seeming lost cause, with Heinze predictably labouring in his attempts to match the Portuguese.

  • 9'

    Nani's free-kick bounces back out for Fletcher to fire on goal. A decent effort, although a little too close to Mandanda to cause severe problems.

  • 8'

    M'Bia pulls back Nani out on the Marseille left, giving United a chance to whip one in.

  • 7'

    Brandao causes Smalling a problem or two, but Evra lends a helping hand. The game's started a nice tempo here.

  • 6'

    Rooney looks to burst clear only to run into trouble in the shape of Diawara.

  • 6'

    Brandao is penalised for a handball as Evra looks to flick the ball away from him in defence.

  • 5'

    United are knocking the ball around in defence amid incessant whistling.

  • 3'

    Gibson plays a fine ball through for Berbatov, but M'Bia makes a finer challenge. United applying some pressure, though.

  • 3'

    The ball comes wide for Nani to strike just inside the area, but he slices it high and wide.

  • 2'

    Evra gets a major booing from the home fans as United go on the attack.

  • 1'

    Remy blazes a shot horribly wide. Not the easiest chance in the world, mind.

  • 1'

    Heinze puts in a stern challenge on Nani in the opening seconds. No apologies from him then.

  • 1'

    United get the game underway!


    The players are now heading out onto the pitch.


    "I think Manchester is a favourite to win the Champions League," Didier Deschamps has told ITV ahead of the game. While acknowledging that they may lack the quality of Barcelona, he thinks they still have what it takes.


    An encouraging stat for the visitors: Marseille have scored just six goals in ten encounters with English sides in the Champions League.


    Gabriel Heinze is, as expected, in the starting line-up to face his former club.


    Mathieu Valbuena has been named on the Marseille bench after a month out through injury, while Brandao and Loic Remy start up front despite fears over their fitness.


    John O'Shea starts at right back ahead of Rafael, while it appears Nani and Wayne Rooney will be playing wide roles in support of central striker Dimitar Berbatov.


    The team news is in and United have selected Darron Gibson and Michael Carrick alongside Darren Fletcher in midfield, while Paul Scholes starts on the bench.


    In fact, Heinze has told our man Nick Bidwell that he very much regrets his fallout with Sir Alex Ferguson.


    Gabby Heinze comes up against his old side.


    Join us at 1945 GMT to see if Marseille can cause an upset by beating Manchester United in the Champions League.