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Marseille beats 10-man Ajax in UEFA Cup

MARSEILLE beat former European champion Ajax 2-1 on Thursday to make itself a favorite to reach the UEFA Cup quarterfinals.

Benoit Cheyrou and Mamadou Niang scored for Marseille to give the French club a slim lead ahead of next week's round-of-16 return leg in Amsterdam, although Ajax may be happy with the margin of defeat after it played more than half the game with 10 men.

Another former European champion, Hamburg, equalized five minutes into the second half to draw 1-1 with 10-man Galatasaray.

Also, Udinese beat defending champion Zenit St Petersburg 2-0, Manchester City beat Aalborg 2-0, and CSKA Moscow, Werder Bremen and Dynamo Kiev won.

Cheyrou put 1993 Champions League winner Marseille ahead 1-0 against Ajax in the 19th with a powerful left-foot shot. Naing doubled the advantage in the 33rd, but Luis Suarez got a goal back for Ajax just three minutes later with a penalty awarded for Vitorino Hilton's foul on Eyong Enoh.

Ajax, though, lost Gregory van der Wiel in the 42nd after he got two yellow cards in five minutes, ruling him out of the March 18 return leg. Ajax defender Thomas Vermaelen will also sit out the match after a first-half yellow card.

Victory and the suspensions make Marseille a narrow favorite to progress to the quarterfinals, although Ajax's away goal could yet be crucial.

The return match is scheduled for March 19, with the draw for the quarterfinals and semifinals the following day at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Italy forwards Fabio Quagliarella and Antonio Di Natale scored in the final five minutes to give Udinese a 2-0 win over Zenit and what could be a decisive cushion.

"We did well to play our game until the end," Di Natale said. "Going there with a 2-0 lead is a big advantage."

Zenit defender Roman Shirokov was shown a second yellow card that resulted in the penalty, leaving the Russian side with 10 men.

Premier League's Manchester City had looked likely to build a bigger lead to take into its second leg after Felipe Caicedo and Shaun Wright-Phillips struck in the first 30 minutes against Aalborg.

"We have to go there next week and not concede too early or we'll be on the back foot," City midfielder Stephen Ireland said.

"But so far, so good."

Despite dominating the Danish club, the closest it came to getting more goals was when Micah Richards had an offside header blocked on the line and Wright-Phillips shot narrowly wide from just outside the area.

Caicedo put City ahead in the eighth minute when he turned defender Michael Jakobsen on the edge of the area and scored with a low shot. Wright-Phillips then doubled the advantage with a curling 20-meter shot into the top corner.

Galatasaray, the 2000 UEFA Cup champion, took the lead in Germany in the 33rd when Ayhan Akman hit a low shot in off the post from the edge of the area, but Marcell Jansen volleyed in from close range after Mladen Petric had headed a cross by Jose Pablo Guerrero back across the area.

Bundesliga rival Werder Bremen beat Saint-Etienne 1-0 through a 20th-minute goal by defender Naldo.

Dynamo Kiev beat fellow Ukrainian team Metalist Kharkiv 1-0 through a 54th-minute goal by Ognjen Vukojevic, while Vagner Love scored a 50th-minute penalty to give CSKA Moscow a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Paris Saint-Germain drew 0-0 with visiting Braga in the other of Thursday's eight games.


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