Bayern beats Marseille 2-0 in Champions League
By JEROME PUGMIRE
MARSEILLE, France (AP) Bayern Munich had little trouble, dispatching a feeble Marseille team 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday, with Mario Gomez grabbing his 11th goal of the competition and Arjen Robben also scoring.
Gomez put Bayern ahead just before halftime, with Marseille goalkeeper Elinton Andrade to blame for letting the ball slip under his body, and Robben added a clinical second in the 69th after a quick one-two with Thomas Mueller.
"We fulfilled our objective, which was to win here without conceding a goal," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said, who was careful to play down talk of what is now looking likely to be a semifinal against Real Madrid.
"We have a return leg yet to play, so I don't want to talk about the semifinal and who we will be playing. I don't really have any doubts, but I have respect for Marseille."
Out of form, hampered by injuries and suspensions, and jeered by it own fans in a stadium barely half full, Marseille hardly tested Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer at Stade Velodrome as it slipped to its eighth defeat in the last nine games.
"There's still a chance we can go through, but it's a tiny one," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said. "We're not in the best position and we know Bayern are very strong at home. Players of that quality always punish you."
Andrade, Marseille's third-choice goalkeeper, replaced the suspended Steve Mandanda and looked nervous, spilling an easy catch and hacking a routine clearance away for a corner instead of down the field early on.
When Gomez struck from the edge of the area, the ball came straight at Andrade, yet he let it roll under his arm and into the bottom right corner. Andrade was playing only his ninth game in three years, and it will be one to forget.
"I have nothing to reproach him for tonight," Deschamps said, defending his choice to pick Andrade.
Gomez, who has 23 goals in the league, is just one behind Barcelona star Lionel Messi in the Champions League scoring charts.
Marseille's fans were in unforgiving mood and refused to encourage the players at the start of the game, even holding up one banner, which said: "Ce soir on est comme vous: on ne sert a rien" (Tonight we're just like you: good for nothing). Other banners, bearing the names of supporters groups, were held upside down in protest.
"It's a difficult situation, as everyone knows," Deschamps said. "I can understand their disappointment."
Marseille's fans did not spare Bayern winger Franck Ribery, either.
He had hoped for a warm welcome from the fans who worshipped him when he played for Marseille from 2005-07, but his name was jeered as soon as the stadium announcer read it out, and then every time he touched the ball.
Marseille had its only clear-cut chance early on when Neuer palmed away Andre Ayew's header and striker Loic Remy, shaking off a thigh injury to start up front, smashed the rebound into the side netting.
Marseille tried its hardest to drag the German side into a physical battle, closing down space well, and stopping Bayern developing any sort of fluency as the midfield battle became heated.
"What I'm not happy about is the five yellow cards we picked up tonight," Heynckes said.
Ayew broke free down the left and shot into the side netting in the 28th, although it was difficult to beat Neuer from a tight angle.
After a brief spell on top, Marseille fizzled out and Bayern took the lead in the 44th minute after a Marseille move broke down.
Winger Mathieu Valbuena lost the ball to right back Philip Lahm, who passed it to Ribery, who in turn fed Robben down the right. The Dutchman played in Gomez, who took his chance with a drive that squirmed under Andrade - while his teammates continued to complain that the ball had hit Lahm's hand in the build-up to the goal.
"Conceding that goal just before halftime really hurt us," Valbuena said. "But when you attack, you leave gaps, and Bayern are very quick up front."
Robben made the game safe after swapping passes with Mueller on the edge of the penalty area and curling the ball past Andrade.
Ribery turned to applaud the Bayern fans after he came off late in the game to a chorus of whistles from the Marseille fans.
"Franck was very motivated before the game, I thought he did well," Heynckes said. "People have short memories."
Robben was in fine form, darting down the right late on and blazing the ball over with Gomez better placed. But with one foot in the semifinals, and having pulled to within one goal of Messi, it was hardly the moment for Gomez to complain.
Updated March 28, 2012