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UEFA Champions League
September 18, 2013
• Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Referee: Olegário Manuel Benquerenca
• Attendance: 38380
J. Ayew 90'+
T. Walcott 65'
A. Ramsey 84'
Shots on Target
FT at the Velodrome, and Arsenal have started the Group of Death with a bang. Three hard-earned points but OM were victims of their own poor defensive errors, gifting the first goal. They slacked off the pace thereafter, but make no mistake, it's a good win for the Gunners.
90' + 3'
Penalty Goal Jordan Ayew
90' + 3'
FULL-TIME: Marseille 1-2 Arsenal.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
GOAL! MARSEILLE SCORE! Jordan Ayew scores with a fine penalty, but is it too little too late? Good strike. But as you saw with Marseille, they never drop off until the final seconds.
PENALTY TO MARSEILLE
Into the final minutes, and we're into an additional three at the Velodrome.
Substitution - Arsenal: Ryo Miyaichi comes on for Mathieu Flamini.
Substitution - Marseille: Saber Khalifa makes his Champions League debut for Marseille, coming on for Valbuena.
Wojiech Szczesny has been solid at the back apart from that mishap with Per Mertesacker, and aerially, he has been superior. A very good cross is taken well by the Poland international.
What could've been a testing evening for Arsenal, has gone without failure. Despite being outmuscled and at times outplayed by L'OM, they've dug deep to negotiate victory. OM's inexperience telling.
Assist Kieran Gibbs
Goal Aaron Ramsey
Ramsey has settled this game, but OM not taking this lying down as Mertesacker blocks off Valbuena's run into the box. A much better second half from the Gunners.
GOAL! MARSEILLE 0-2 ARSENAL - RAMSEY! The Welshman settles the game, after holding off three defenders to stroke under Mandanda. It's his second goal in this stadium.
Tempo has dropped off, and Marseille appear to have settled for the result. They're on the back foot as Monreal chases on the wing. Towards Ozil, but the shot is dragged wide.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR MARSEILLE! And it goes begging. Appeals for handball after the ball bobbles off an Arsenal man, with Flamini appearing to have been fouled. But Ayew finds his way towards Valbuena, who drags his effort wide.
Substitution - Marseille: Giannelli Imbula is off after a positive evening, and is replaced by Florian Thauvin - who makes his Champions League debut.
Substitution - Arsenal: Nacho Monreal comes on for Theo Walcott.
Giroud penalised after being in an offside position. The Frenchman, who scored on his final visit to the Velodrome after a fantastic performance with Montpellier, isn't enjoying a productive night.
Morel attempts to redeem himself with a cross towards Valbuena. Into the path of Ayew, but Szczesny races out to claim the ball in time. In Napoli, the Partenopei are 2-0 up against Dortmund.
Mendes concedes a free-kick for a challenge on Giroud,before seconds later, Romao is penalised for a challenge on Flamini. Referee Benquerenca keeps his yellow card in his pocket though.
VALBUENA! Good strike, but it's always rising. The attacking midfielder threatens once again. despite his influence waning. On the half-volley, it doesn't test Szczesny.
SUBSTITUTION - Marseille: Dimitri Payet departs for Jordan Ayew.
Giroud goes toe-to-toe with Rod Fanni on the right, but the Arsenal man wins a corner for his efforts. Headed wide from the striker, who has had an off night. Substitutions ready.
In 2011, OM had just 10 seconds to recover after going behind at the Velodrome to Ramsey's 93rd minute goal. Here, they have over 20 minutes. Can they make it count? Just a few clear chances for the Gunners, but they are ahead.
Corner for Marseille after a good shot from Payet from distance is turned around by Szczesny. Corner delivered in towards Mendes, but it's over the bar.
The Velodrome is not silenced nonetheless, as Marseille aim for an equaliser, despite a horror show from Jeremy Morel. They're pressing in numbers, unperturbed by that setback.
Goal Theo Walcott
GOAL! Marseille 0-1 Arsenal - Morel in a howler. Walcott with a fantastic volley into the corner. Mandanda cannot save that. Wenger's men go ahead after a fine strike, but it's a defensive howler.
IMBULA! Great strike, it's a low one, with a good take for Szczesny. OM camped outside the Arsenal box, but cannot find a pass forward. Imbula opts for the shot, and it's a decent chance.
And it continues for Marseille as well, as the tempo picks up. Valbuena is fed a neat ball from Fanni, coming into the middle, but Mertesacker with a great block on the shot.
MERTESACKER! WHAT A HOWLER FROM ARSENAL! They're so lucky that it hasn't gone in as Mertesacker scythes a ball behind his own goalkeeper, but Gibbs heads away at the death on the line from Gignac.
Walcott delivers a corner, and Marseille with a stunning counter, encompassing four players. Payet races forward, connecting well with Ayew out wide, but OM cannot make a break for it.
WILSHERE! Arsenal are getting closer. Good ball from the wing finds the Arsenal midfielder in space by himself on the right. A first-time volley, and it's Mandanda with the parry wide.
Payet with a bit of skill to retain possession. Imbula with a good pass out wide to Ayew, but Ramsey tracks back to deny Marseille space in the middle with a superb tackle.
PAYET! Great shot, and a good save from Szczesny. Good move from Marseille after Morel's cross flies into the path of Payet, whose low effort is a good take for the Poland international.
Dimitri Payet's cross is headed away by Mertesacker, as Marseille again fail to penetrate a rather solid Gunners' defence. But still, the hosts continue to advance.
Yellow Card Aaron Ramsey
YELLOW CARD! Aaron Ramsey is booked after a poor challenge on Ayew. A cynical one, as he stops Ayew from breaking at speed.
MANDANDA! Superb save from the goalkeeper. Gibbs and Ozil combine ever so well, as the left-back fires towards goal, but Mandanda with a fantastic, if unorthodox save.
Arsenal have not lost a game in the Champions League on matchday one since 2003, when Inter picked up a shock 3-0 win that September at Highbury.
Corner to Arsenal is poor, and headed away after Ozil's delivery. Romao attempts to pass it out of play, but the move fails to materialise. Lucas Mendes has a small problem here,
Koscielny concedes a free-kick for a foul on Gignac, and Marseille have a chacne to put pressure on the Gunners here. Valbuena loses the ball, and Ozil pounces on the counter. Mendes fires it behind.
Gignac is a credible threat up front once again. Beats Koscielny on the wing, and plays a one-two. Once more though, he is ruled offside. Needs to really address this.
FANNI! BIG CHANCE FOR OM! Fanni volleys wide after OM win a corner. Towards Valbuena, who gets a second attempt, the right-back volleys narrowly wide. He'd thought he had scored.
The sides are out in the second half at the Velodrome. Arsenal attacking from right to left in this half.
In tonight's other group game - Napoli are 1-0 up v Dortmund, who are having one of those nights. Nightmarish nights that is. Jurgen Klopp has been sent off, so has Roman Weidenfeller, who handled outside his area. Hummels has limped off. Ouch.
HT: A very good half, played to a great tempo. Marseille the better side, by some distance, as Arsenal struggle to impose themselves. A few jittery moments from the Gunners, but OM have failed to trouble them offensively in the final third.
45' + 1'
HALF-TIME: Marseille 0-0 Arsenal.
GIGNAC! Can't get past the challenge of Szczesny, who was quick off the line. Lovely ball towards the forward, but the Arsenal goalkeeper with a good, clean take on the ball.
Coming upto the end of the first half here at the Velodrome, and it's been a tightly contested affair. Marseille again have a late chance, with Giroud conceding a free-kick for a foul on Ayew.
Marseille stepping up with some late pressure, as Valbuena and Ayew go forward in search of the opener. Fanni's cross is blocked, but OM get the free-kick after a foul from Ramsey.
Yellow Card N. N'Koulou
Imbula with the half chance forward, but again the move is cut out at its most promising by an Arsenal player. Flamini wins a free-kick, and N'Koulou is booked.
GIGNAC! Brilliant header, and it's over the bar. Best chance for OM now, as the striker gets behind Ramsey and rises highest to meet the ball with a powerful header. Just over.
Imbula makes progress on the wing, towards Fanni, whose dangerous low cross towards the danger zone is cut out superbly by Mertesacker. In from Payet again, and it's a corner. Headed behind from Ramsey.
Referee Benquerenca awards a free-kick to Arsenal, after spotting a Valbuena handball. Eight minutes to go until half-time, and it's still OM on top here at the Velodrome. Ozil darts past Ayew, but Sagna's cross headed away by Fanni.
Possession - Marseille 51% Arsenal's 49%. Another long pass forward from Marseille, deep towards Gignac is cut out by Koscielny. Still no side can really get the breakthrough in the box.
Marseille continue to pose problems, but failing to impress in the final third. Imbula tees up Valbuena, who provides the through ball towards Ayew, but the Ghanaian cannot evade his marker.
Mrel wins a corner after failing to get past Sagna. In towards Lucas, but Arsenal clear their lines at the first time of asking. The ball is fired forward for Wilshere to give chase, but Payet, tracking back all the way finds Mandanda.
Ayew with a drilled cross from the left, but Marseille concede possession. The Gunners advance up the pitch towards Ozil, but he again is crowded out by four players.
Goal in Naples - as Gonzalo Higuain puts Rafa Benitez's men ahead against BVB. Here at the Velodrome, it's Marseille 0-0 Arsenal on the half-hour.
Ozil is beaten by Gignac as Marseille plunder forward in numbers. Towards Ayew on the left, the Ghanaian is no match for Sagna, as Arsenal win a free-kick in the end.
Flamini feeds Wlshere on the left, but Arsenal are forced back. Ramsey with the turnaround but Fanni gets the ball away under pressure. Giroud has been an invisible figure so far.
OFFSIDE AGAIN! Marseille boss Elie Baup furious on the touchline as Gignac marginally goes offside once more. Superb break it promised to be too, as Valbuena's pass is checked by the assistant referee.
Corner to Arsenal - Ozil feeds Wilshere on the edge of the box. The young Englishman locates Walcott with another lofted pass, but Morel heads away in time.
But towards Gibbs, Fanni attempts to power past the Arsenal left-back, but fails as the ball drifts out for a goal-kick - to a chorus of boos from the Marseille support.
Arsenal lacking total composure here, giving the ball away so nonchalantly. Marseille's nerves have settled, as Koscielny heads the ball into OM's possession. They're on the ball now....
Opening up this one superbly. Arsenal advance on the far side, but N'Koulou does brilliantly to cut out the ball, and feeds Ayew to break.Towards Gignac, and it's offside!
AYEW!! So close. Should've gone in that. Marseille on the front foot here, as Payet drifts in a cross as the Ghana international rises highest to head narrowly wide of Szczesny's goal.
Arsenal looking a bit jittery as Marseille close in on possession. Lucas Mendes with a superb ball forward towards Gignac, who does well to get into a position to strike - but fires horribly wide.
VALBUENA! Over the bar. A good opening from the diminutive winger, who picks up the ball from distance and strikes on the half-volley. Should've tested Szczesny there.
Kieran Gibbs with a foul on Dimitri Payet as Marseille attack down the right wing. Towards Imbula, but OM are forced to track back and start from N'Koulou, who makes a 100th appearance for the club tonight.
Good energy from L'OM, as they continue to bide their time after an energetic first 15 minutes at the Velodrome. The visitors stepping off the pedal a little bit.
Marseille with a bit of pressure now, as Fanni wins a corner off Gibbs. Payet takes, headed wide by Lucas Mendes, but Valbuena retrieves possession. Into Payet again, but his volley is wide.
Earlier today, the UEFA Youth League got underway - known to you and me as an U19 Champions League. Arsenal's youngsters ran out 4-1 winners over a disjointed Marseille side in Carnoux. Can we see the same scoreline tonight?
Controversial moment - Payet goes down under the challenge of Aaron Ramsey, and referee Benquerenca waves play on. Marseille had an opening there. Payet seems to be alright.
Marseille continue to advance down the wing, but a wayward shot goes far over the bar. 11 minutes gone, it's 0-0 here, and in Naples, where Napoli are up against Dortmund.
Gignac up against Gibbs on the far side, attempting to dribble his way out of it. But Gibbs does superbly well to close him down, and instead attempts to win a corner. But touches the ball out instead!
Szczesny with a poor ball towards Flamini, but Arsenal deal with it, despite the pressure from Ayew. The Gunners look pretty comfortable in possession though.
Walcott gets in behind Morel again, who is stationary at the back. Another long ball finds the winger running in behind, but the assistant referee adjudges the player to be offside.
WALCOTT! Good strike. A fantastic cross-ball evades Marseille's high line and allows Walcott to get in behind Jeremy Morel. Gets the strike away, and it's a good save for Mandanda.
Every second Arsenal are on the ball, especially Ramsey (scorer of the winner here two years ago), and it's met by a chorus of boos. A prolonged one too, as Arsenal pass their way into the area, but Mandanda makes a clearance.
A really positive opening from both sides, played to a good tempo. Ozil is in at the other end, but his cross into the box goes behind. A header back in from Ramsey, but Fanni deals with it well.
Valbuena! Sagna's off the attacking midfielder, and gives him a bit of space in which to operate. A fine curling effort, but it's no problem for the goalkeeper.
GIGNAC! Good move from Marseille. Valbuena feeds Romao, who dinks a fine ball into the area. Gignac gets a nice touch on the ball, and it's saved by Szczesny.
Comfortable opening for OM on the ball, as they gently knock the ball back to Mandanda and start conservatively. Morel advances on the left, but Marseille biding their time.
KICK-OFF AT THE VELODROME: Marseille get us going, attacking from right to left in their famous white strip. Arsenal in yellow and blue.
And the famous Champions League anthem reverbrates around the stadium. If that doesn't stoke the fire, what will?
The teams are out at a half-finished Velodrome, which was given the go-ahead to host Champions League matches last year. Expect an explosive atmosphere.
Tonight's referee is from Portugal - Olegario Benquerenca.
TEAM NEWS: As expected from Marseille, as Andre Ayew returns to depose Florian Thauvin in the starting eleven. Lucas Mendes continues at the back, but with the slight surprise of Giannelli Imbula - the Ligue 2 player of the year - being preferred to European veteran Benoit Cheyrou. For Arsenal, as expected as Per Mertesacker replaces Carl Jenkinson. Bacary Sagna moves out wide, as Mesut Ozil lines up behind Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal: Szczęsny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Özil, Ramsey, Flamini, Giroud, Walcott SUBS: Fabiański, Vermaelen, Monreal, Jenkinson, Miyaichi, Hayden, Akpom.
Olympique de Marseille: Mandanda, N'Koulou, Mendes, Morel, Fanni, Payet, Romao, Imbula, Valbuena, Gignac, A Ayew SUBS: Samba, Mendy, Cheyrou, Lemina, J Ayew, Thauvin, Khalifa.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
Marseille's Velodrome is being renovated for the Euro 2016 tournament, which is under a 1,000 days away. Capacity is at 44,000 for UEFA games, though 38,000 fans will be expected tonight. One of Europe's most atmospheric stadiums, nonetheless.
STATS: Marseille have suffered ten defeats in 21 games at home in the Champions League, with Arsenal unbeaten in France against French clubs - though, they did lose two European finals in the capital, Paris. In the CL proper, Arsenal have lost nine of their last seventeen games on the road.
The two sides faced each other at this stage in October 2011, with Aaron Ramsey scoring a 93rd minute winner to claim a 1-0 win, before Marseille became one of the few teams to stop Arsenal from scoring at home in Europe, picking up a 0-0 draw in the Emirates return.
But the visitors are struggling with an injury crisis with various first-team players out. Per Mertesacker will return after missing the 3-1 win over the Black Cats on Saturday, whereas Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud return after overcoming knocks.
Arsenal meanwhile continue to bask under the glory of signing Germany international Mesut Ozil, who makes his competition bow for his new club tonight. The Gunners were comfortable winners in Sunderland at the weekend, and have won every competitive encounter so far this term since their opening day slip to Aston Villa. Having easily beaten Fenerbahce last month - Wenger's side will be aiming to continue to impress.
But L'OM - winners of the first Champions League in 1993 - are certainly no pushovers, despite the shadow of Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco. Unable to contend with the duo's lavish spending, tonight's hosts instead opted for a safer transfer window - with reputable domestic stars such as Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin joining the Ligue 1 club.
Marseille return to the Champions League after a season on the sidelines. Their last participation in the competition in 2011-12 saw them also be drawn against Arsenal and Dortmund, but pipped BVB to qualify behind the Gunners, and ultimately embark on a superb run before being eliminated in the quarter-finals to Bayern Munich. How Elie Baup will be wishing for similar this season.
I'm Mohammed Ali, and I'll be bringing you live coverage of tonight's Group F showdown at the Stade Velodrome over the next two hours. Tonight's other game sees Napoli take on last year's runners-up Borussia Dortmund at the Stadio San Paolo.
Good evening! And welcome to tonight's UEFA Champions League live commentary. Tonight sees Olympique de Marseille host Premier League giants Arsenal to kick off what has been labelled as the competition's 'Group of Death'. Both sides will be hoping to race out of the blocks on matchday one.
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