Football: Ravanelli strikes to set up Marseilles victory

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FABRIZIO RAVANELLI and Robert Pires scored in the first half last night to help Marseilles to a 2-0 victory over the Austrian side Sturm Graz, who provide Manchester United's next opposition in Champions' League Group D.

Under pressure after five league matches without a win, last season's Uefa Cup finalists took the lead in the ninth minute when the Graz defence were caught out of position after clearing an attack. Florian Maurice found Pires in space with a diagonal pass, and the French international rolled the ball past the Graz goalkeeper, Josef Schicklgruber.

Marseilles poured forward in a fine display of fast and physical football and were rewarded 12 minutes before the interval when Ravanelli added the second goal. Stephane Dalmat, a pounds 7m buy from Lens, wriggled past two defenders on the left and his firm, low cross was knocked in from two yards by Ravanelli, who then forced Schicklgruber to tip over a 25-yard shot.

Arsenal's next opponents in Group B, AIK Solna, came within 10 minutes of pulling off an upset against Barcelona at the Rasunda stadium in Stockholm.

Pinned back by the Catalans for much of the match, AIK launched a counterattack in the 72nd minute and Nebojsa Novakovic lobbed the ball over Ruud Hesp and into the Barcelona net via the crossbar.

Barcelona had created several good chances. In the 58th minute, Mattias Asper made a flying save to keep out Patrick Kluivert's header; seven minutes later, Asper saved from Sergi, and a minute after that when Rivaldo created an opening but his shot hit the far post. In the 86th minute, Abelardo finally found the net, heading in the equaliser from a corner, and three minutes into the five minutes of added time, Dani headed the winner from Rivaldo's free-kick.