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Late Goals Lift Marseille, Basel to Champions League Victories

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Marseille and Basel both scored late to beat former winners Inter Milan and Bayern Munich 1-0 at home in their Champions League round of 16 openers.

Andre Ayew’s stoppage-time header gave Marseille the victory over Inter last night in France, while Valentin Stocker scored in the 86th minute as Basel beat Bayern in Switzerland.

“It was a game of few chances but we were the better side at the end,” Marseille manager Didier Deschamps told UEFA’s website. “We have a small advantage.”

Inter and Bayern will host the return matches in the two-game series March 13. The winners advance to the quarterfinals of European soccer’s elite club competition.

Defending champion Barcelona, AC Milan, Napoli, Zenit St. Petersburg and Lyon also take leads into their second legs next month, while record nine-time winner Real Madrid is tied 1-1 with CSKA Moscow.

Marseille’s last-second victory sent three-time European champion Inter to its fourth straight loss and extended the Italian team’s winless run to seven matches in all competitions.

“We now are facing a difficult task in the second leg but we have enough skill to score twice in Milan,” Inter coach Claudio Ranieri said. “We can overturn this result.”

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda pushed Diego Forlan’s volley over the crossbar in the first half and caught Mauro Zarate’s shot from close range. Marseille had the better of second-half play with Ayew sending one header over the goal and a second into the arms of Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

Near Post Header

Cesar then knocked another Ayew shot away in the last of three added minutes for a corner. Mathieu Valbuena swung the kick in and Ayew went up at the near post to head it into the far corner of the net.

“It’s a good result at home because we didn’t concede,” Ayew told UEFA’s website. “Now we must stay focused, but it’s a clear boost.”

Basel, which last reached the quarterfinals 38 years ago, secured its second straight upset after beating Manchester United 2-1 in its final group game in December.

Four-time champion Bayern had 59 percent of the possession and out-shot the home team 19-8, though failed to beat Yann Sommer in the Basel goal.

“We’re not in an ideal position ahead of the second leg,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes told UEFA’s website. “The alarm bells are ringing, though we can still correct this result. It is certainly possible to beat Basel 2-0 at home.”

Early Chances

Sommer stopped two early shots from Franck Ribery and Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer tipped Marco Streller’s lob over the goal. Neuer also pushed Aleksandar Dragovic’s header onto the post and Holger Badstuber cleared the ball off the line.

Basel’s Alexander Frei then hit the crossbar from 10 yards out and Sommer made a one-handed save of David Alaba’s shot.

The defenses tightened in the second half and the best chance came as Sommer stopped Mario Gomez from close range. The game appeared headed for a draw when Jacques Zoua carried the ball across the edge of the area and found Stocker, who fired a shot from the left between Neuer’s legs.

“We are in a great position,” said Basel coach Heiko Vogel. “We are capable of scoring away goals and if we do that in Munich it will be very difficult for Bayern.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at

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