Marseille and Manchester United played out a drab encounter at the Stade Velodrome in the Champions League last-16 round, which ended 0-0. It means United will go into the second leg of the tie without the safety of an away goal while Marseille will need just a scoring draw to get through.
Darren Fletcher's snapshot midway through the first half remained the only bit of excitement in an otherwise dour encounter which failed to meet expectations. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to start with Darron Gibson for Paul Scholes was about as exciting as it got.
The home side's best chance came when Andre Ayew was slipped through only for him to drag his shot wide of target. In the closing stages of the game, last-man Stephane M'Bia appeared to foul Wayne Rooney as the forward rushed towards the Marseille box. However, the referee heard nothing of it. Going into the second leg, United will remain favorites to progress.
After the game, Ferguson admitted that he was disappointed with his team's performance but said he was confident they could do better.
Ferguson told ITV, It was disappointing. The pitch was lively but they made sure they weren't going to lose a goal. We got in good positions but we didn't have enough. Nil-nil can be a dangerous scoreline if you lose a goal at home but it's about winning the game, if we win the game we're through. We're confident. I think we'll be much better.''
On the referee's decision to not penalize M'Bia's challenge on Rooney at the depth, he said, I think it was very lucky. The referee's in a good position and I don't know why he didn't give us a free-kick and then the decision is straightforward - it's a red card.''
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps was understandably pleased about not conceding a goal at home. He said, For the first game it is very important you don't concede a goal. We have done it; it was a tough game because Manchester are a big team. We had a very good spell in the second half for 20-25 minutes but we couldn't find a goal.
I am very happy for my players. They have done their best. It is important for the return to not concede a goal again and, if we get the opportunity, to score. Manchester are always favorites, it's not a bad result for us but it is a good result for Manchester United.''
In the other Champions League fixture, Bayern Munich scored an injury-time winner through Mario Gomez to earn a microscopic measure of revenge against Inter Milan.
In the repeat of the 2010 Champions League final, which Inter won 2-0, Bayern were the much better side and ventured forward with far more precision than Inter. What let them down was their final ball. However, as the game wore on, the visitors were far more involved and Ribery, Robben, and Muller came close with Ribery and Robben denied by the post.
Esteban Cambiasso missed Inter's best chance while Eto'o was brought down in the area by Tymoschuk. They were also denied on numerous occasions by the brilliant Thomas Kraft, who sprung a number of reaction-saves to keep Bayern in the tie.
It took more than ninety minutes for the goal to come though. Inter keeper Julio Cesar couldn't hold on to Robben's fierce shot from outside the box, and Mario Gomez was the fastest to the rebound to tap the ball. It proved to be the last action of the game, and Bayern secured an impressive and thoroughly deserved victory against the holders.