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Marseille edge Inter Milan 1-0
Updated: 2004-04-09 08:45

Marseille striker Didier Drogba was the hero as the French club took a slender lead against Inter Milan in their UEFA Cup quarter-final first-leg match at the Stade Velodrome.

Olympique Marseille's goalkeeper Fabien Barthez applauds after their 1-0 win against Inter Milan with during their UEFA Cup first leg quarter-final soccer match in the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, April 8, 2004. [Reuters]
\Drogba scored the only goal of the night straight after the kick-off in the second half and inspired his team to 45 minutes of football which deserved a better reward than a narrow 1-0 win.

However, Marseille will be pleased not to have conceded an away goal against Inter who will have to be careful not to concede when the teams meet again next week at San Siro.

The Ivory Coast international was at the heart of all of Marseille's moves and but for the width of the crossbar and some bad luck, Drogba could have had a hat-trick.

Nobody could have expected such dramatic events following the first 45 minutes.

The game kicked off in a boisterous atmosphere as 55,000 Marseille fans came together with the aim of pushing their team towards the semi-finals.

However, they came up against a typical Inter Milan side, who played three men in central defence and looked to pack the midfield.

Matthieu Flamini tried his luck in the first minute, but otherwise Marseille were closed down by Inter's border and defensive tactics although Laurent Batlles lived up to his name with a busy performance in midfield.

The first half may have lacked goalmouth action, but the second more than compensated.

After Drogba rifled the ball home on 46 minutes, his side took control.

Batlles should have made it 2-0 on 52 minutes, but placed his header wide at the far post.

Drogba was at the heart of everything and was inches away from the second himself on 58.

However, the miss of the night came on 54 minutes when winger Camel Meriem collected a weak back pass and rounded Alberto Fontana.

The Inter goalkeeper brought Meriem down but the winger chose to carry on only to see his shot rebound agonisingly off the post.

Drogba still had time to hit the crossbar with a header and see a cruel rebound deny him a one-on-one in the closing minutes.

Nevertheless it was a performance that well deserved the standing ovation the fans dedicated to him at the final whistle.

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