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Marseille cruise into next stage
Marseille cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League with an unexpectedly straightforward victory over Spartak Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Mathieu Valbuena got Didier Deschamps' men off to the perfect start with a fine opener inside 20 minutes, and further strikes by Loic Remy and Brandao after the break ensured OM the margin of victory they required to progress.

Spartak hopes were hardly helped by the dismissal of Brazilian forward Welliton for violent conduct shortly after the hour, but Marseille were good value for their three points and deservedly join Chelsea in qualifying from Group F.

The French champions almost opened the scoring inside the first minute when a free-kick from the right fell at the feet of Valbuena, who was unlucky to see his left-footed effort drift just wide of the far post with Andrei Dikan beaten.

The home defence looked shaky early on and Valbuena dispossessed a dallying Yevgeni Makeev inside the Spartak area on five minutes but the chance came to nothing.

Valbuena, who was on the scoresheet as France defeated England at Wembley last week, deservedly opened the scoring on 18 minutes.

Gabriel Heinze created the opening when he reached Remy's mishit deep cross from the right flank to volley the ball back into the danger area, and Valbuena reacted quickly to turn and curl a delightful effort into the top corner of Dikan's net.

Spartak raised their game after going behind and Welliton typified their improvement with a superb run and cross which Stephane M'bia cleared at full stretch.

The Russians also had a penalty shout turned down on 36 minutes when referee Wolfgang Stark ruled Valbuena had just nicked the ball from the toes of Welliton, although replays suggested the Frenchman had caught the attacker first.

Two minutes before the break Valeri Karpin's side came agonisingly close to drawing level when Makeev fired in a low cross which OM goalkeeper Steve Mandanda parried into the path of two onrushing Spartak strikers, but neither Welliton nor Dmitri Kombarov could get a touch as the chance went begging.

Marseille doubled their lead in rather fortuitous circumstances nine minutes after the restart.

Brandao's cross was met with another miscue by Remy which span over the head of Martin Stranzl and landed perfectly back at the feet of the striker for a second effort, which he tucked away with a low finish off both posts.

Spartak's chances took a further nosedive when Welliton received a straight red card on 64 minutes.

The Brazilian had just collided with Mandanda in a full-blooded but fair challenge that sent both players to the deck. With Welliton still on the floor, OM defender Souleymane Diawara appeared to aim a kick into his back, to which the Spartak man reacted by pushing Diawara in the chest.

Although Diawara was the initial aggressor and went down very easily, it was Welliton who walked as the Marseille player went unpunished.

It was game over for the hosts just four minutes later when Andre Ayew's interception fell into the path of Brandao, who took the ball past his marker before dispatching an unerring effort into the bottom-left corner of the Spartak net.

It was almost four with 16 minutes remaining when Brandao again got in behind the home defence but Dikan reacted brilliantly to divert the ball for a corner and spare his side any further embarrassment.
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