Italian-style football victory delights Deschamps

23 February 2012 07:16

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps was left to revel in an Italian-style victory after Andre Ayew's injury-time header gave his side a last-gasp 1-0 win over Inter Milan.

The first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie had been drifting towards a goalless draw when Ayew pounced to convert Mathieu Valbuena's 93rd-minute corner and put OM in the driving seat ahead of the second leg on March 13.

Deschamps spent six years in Italy with Juventus -- five as a player and one as a coach -- and he admitted it was refreshing to finish on the right end of a scoreline in which Italian teams traditionally specialise.

"When we scored, there was no chance for them to come back," he said.

"It's true that it feels good when you're on the right side of it. Often it's the Italian sides who do that, but tonight it was us."

It is almost a year since OM fell to Manchester United at the same stage of last season's tournament, after a 0-0 draw in the home leg, and Deschamps was pleased his side had avoided the same traps they fell into 12 months ago.

"Compared to last season, we've progressed," said the Frenchman, whose side are fifth in Ligue 1 and still competing in both domestic cup competitions.

"We had a 0-0 then (against United), now it's 1-0. It's a source of pride for me and my players, because they believed right until the end."

With Marseille unbeaten since November 23 and Inter without a win in six games prior to kick-off, the 2010 champions appeared ripe for the taking but the hosts struggled to break them down until the closing stages.

Having returned recently from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ghana, Ayew sounded the rallying cry by forcing Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar into a pair of saves before finally breaking the deadlock in the final minute of added time.

"He has that desire, that determination -- it's inside him and he'll always have it," said Deschamps of his match-winner.

Inter coach Claudio Ranieri admitted that conceding a goal with the last action of the game was "a real blow to the head," but he refused to blame his players for the outcome of the match.

"They played good football, they counter-attacked well and they made more chances than Marseille," he said. "They lost, but they didn't deserve to lose."

Inter must now prevail by two goals at San Siro to progress to the last eight for the third season in a row, but Ranieri believes the context of the return leg will work in his players' favour.

"The stadium will be full, which is an advantage, as it will enable the team to give their all and to push to turn things around," he said.

"We only have to score two goals and I think we're capable of doing it, no problem."

Ranieri confirmed that striker Diego Milito had been left on the bench due to a cold and explained to Italian journalists that Joel Obi had been introduced instead of him for tactical reasons.

"I preferred not to risk him, particularly as Marseille were running down the left flank a lot," he said at the post-match press conference.

"That's why I sent on Obi, to help us firm things up."

Despite their lead -- and the fact Inter failed to procure an away goal -- Deschamps warned that there was still work to be done, particularly against a side that has changed so little since their triumphant 2010 treble campaign.

"It's a little advantage," he said. "It will be complicated there too.

"Of course we can't just go there and defend. But it's good to have scored this little goal. It'll be a different match there but I'm very happy with what we've done tonight."

Source: AFP