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The BBC's Ian Brown
"Relief was very much the emotion at full-time"
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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 21:04 GMT
Wise rescues below-par Blues

Wise drives the ball home to claim the victory
Chelsea 1-0 Marseille

Dennis Wise came to Chelsea's rescue to earn a vital victory in the Champions League and take them back to the top of Group D.

The Blues skipper stole the show at Stamford Bridge, with a first-half strike to avenge their 1-0 defeat by Marseille last week.

Dennis has been playing great for a long time. He's the captain and a key player but he was making the headlines last season because he was getting sent off. Now it's nice to see him playing as well as he can.

Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli
But as with the previous day's effort from Manchester United, the other English side left in the competition, it was a far from convincing display from Chelsea.

United too had scrapped their way past French opposition with Tuesday's fortunate 2-1 victory over Bordeaux.

And Chelsea will be equally glad to have seen the back of their opponents, as they rode their luck for long periods in the second half and saw the visitors hit the woodwork in the frantic closing stages.

Gianluca Vialli's men take over at the top of Group D, after Feyenoord dropped two home points in the 0-0 draw with Lazio.

Menace from Dennis

Wise was the pick of the Chelsea team and claimed the points with a 26th minute goal.

Pint-sized striker Gianfranco Zola out-jumped Marseille's statuesque defence and nodded Tore Andre Flo's cross into the path of the unmarked Wise, who netted with a close-range angled drive.

Deschamps and Bakayoko battle it out
Chelsea could have gone ahead before then, but Marseille keeper Stephane Trevisan made a superb point-blank save to keep out Gustavo Poyet's header - and Celestine Babayaro fluffed the follow-up.

But in an open first half, there were chances at both ends.

Chelsea keeper Ed De Goey did well to parry Ibrahima Bakayoko's drive, while Jerome Leroy's goal-bound effort was deflected wide by the out-stretched boot of Albert Ferrer.

Two minutes before the break Babayaro had a double chance to score from close in, but wasted with both efforts.

Babayaro was not alone in missing his cues in front of goal on a less than illustrious night up front for the Blues. Zola in particular looked to be suffering from his on-going goal drought and was replaced long before the end.

Chelsea defender Lebouef tussles with Perez
The longer the game went on, the more impressive Marseille became.

The visitors always offered a threat on the break and Stephane Dalmat should have done better after 65 minutes when he blasted the ball over the bar after a hooked pass had left him with just De Goey to beat.

But the biggest scare of all for Chelsea came 10 minutes from time when substitute Ivan De La Pena smacked a superb free-kick against the right-hand upright.

Within a minute De Goey was forced to pull off a fine one-handed save to keep out a spectacular overhead kick from Robert Pires.

And there was more to come in injury time, as Bakayoko sliced a shot just wide from six yards out.

The final whistle came as a huge relief to Vialli's troops, who can now secure a last-eight spot with victory in Feyenoord next week.


Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Leboeuf, Desailly, Babayaro, Morris, Deschamps, Wise, Poyet, Flo, Zola.
Subs: Cudicini, Sutton, Di Matteo, Ambrosetti, Lambourde, Thome, Harley.

Marseille: Trevisan, Cyprien, Luccin, Abardonado, Perez, Brando, Leroy, Dalmat, Pires, Bakayoko, Pouget.
Subs: Carasso, Martin, De La Pena, Keita, Martini, Fischer, Moses.

Referee: J Fernandez Marin (Spain)

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See also:

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08 Mar 00 |  Champions League
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