In the 2003/2004 UEFA Cup, Mar­seille reached the final

On Feb­ru­ary 22, Shakhtar will play against Mar­seille in the return match of the Europa League play­offs. The match at the Velo­drome will be the fourth head-to-head match between the Min­ers and the French club, and the eighth in the con­fronta­tion between the Proven­cals and the Ukrain­ian teams. Mar­seille has only one vic­to­ry in these match­es (four draws and two defeats), which the French club achieved exact­ly 20 years ago — on Feb­ru­ary 26, 2004. Then Fabi­en Barthez played in Mar­seille, Didi­er Drog­ba scored the only goal in the match, the French team’s oppo­nent was Dnepr, and in the UEFA Cup, where the clubs crossed paths, the Proven­cals reached the final.

Read also: Mar­seille – Shakhtar book­mak­ers assessed the teams’ chances of reach­ing the 1/8 finals of the Europa League

How the teams approached the head-to-head match

Mar­seille, in a tour­na­ment that was under­go­ing the main reform of recent times, end­ed up in the third round, being elim­i­nat­ed from the Cham­pi­ons League: start­ing from the third round of qual­i­fy­ing and third place in the group with Real Madrid, Por­to and Par­ti­zan. The Dnieper had to pass three rivals on its way to Mar­seille.

Read also: Shakhtar – Mar­seille. Of the French clubs, only PSG won both match­es against the Min­ers, and Lille also won a two-game con­fronta­tion

In the qual­i­fy­ing round, the Dnieper team defeat­ed Vaduz, achiev­ing min­i­mal vic­to­ries (1:0) in each match; Alexan­der Rykun scored goals in both match­es. In the first main, the Dnieper passed Ham­burg. The Dnieper team lost the away match — 1:2, and con­fi­dent­ly beat their oppo­nents at home (3:0). Venglin­sky scored in each match, and the same Rykun and Mikhailenko scored in the home match.

Dmit­ry Mikhailenko, Footboom.com

In the sec­ond round of the tour­na­ment, Dnepr lost to Dinamo Zagreb. The Dnipro team won the away match 2:0, thanks to goals from Venglin­sky and Mak­simyuk. At home they end­ed up with a draw (1:1), again with a goal from Venglin­sky.

Evil genius Marle

Dnepr of the 2003/2004 sea­son is the best ver­sion of the Dnieper team of the Ukrain­ian peri­od of Evgeniy Kucherevsky. The team, assem­bled from Ukrain­ian play­ers — pre­vi­ous­ly lit­tle known or who turned out to be unnec­es­sary to their for­mer clubs — fell in love with their pas­sion, char­ac­ter and results. Alexan­der Rykun, Oleg Venglin­sky, Vyach­eslav Ker­nozenko, Dmit­ry Mikhailenko, Oleg She­laev, Vladimir Yez­er­sky, Sergey Nazarenko, Rus­lan Rotan, Rus­lan Kostyshin, Sergey Valyaev, Andrey Rusol — it was these peo­ple who formed the face of Dnepr, which, togeth­er with Kucherevsky, fin­ished fourth twice and took the bronze

In Mar­seille, in the first half of 2004, there were plen­ty of bright foot­ball play­ers. World and Euro­pean cham­pi­on Fabi­en Barthez, who returned to France from Man­ches­ter Unit­ed, Matthew Flami­ni, who lat­er played for Arse­nal and Milan, the Egypt­ian Mido, who was con­sid­ered incred­i­bly promis­ing, and, of course, Didi­er Drog­ba, who came from Guingamp in the sum­mer of 2003, who was almost 40 mil­lion will go to Chelsea.

The first match of the stage, Mar­seille and Dnepr played at the Velo­drome. More­over, tra­di­tion­al­ly at an incon­ve­nient time for our clubs — the end of Feb­ru­ary. But, as men­tioned above, this Dnieper had no short­age of char­ac­ter and will. The match itself did not turn out to be very rich in dan­ger­ous moments, and its fate, as it would lat­er turn out to be the whole con­fronta­tion, was decid­ed by one goal scored from the penal­ty spot by Didi­er Drog­ba. How­ev­er, the hero of the match was not he, but at that time the 30-year-old ex-for­ward of the French nation­al team, Lyon and Ful­ham, who moved from the Lon­don club in the sum­mer of 2003 on loan to Mar­seille, Steve Mar­let.

It was he who missed the goal in the first half from an advan­ta­geous posi­tion (Dnepr respond­ed with a pow­er­ful shot from Yez­er­sky, who joined the attack, to the post), it was he who earned a penal­ty kick in the fight with Matyukhin, and it was he who could have made the score larg­er, but was unable to beat Ker­nozenko.

In the Dnieper on Mete­o­ra, Mar­seille defend­ed a goal­less draw and advanced to the next round of the tour­na­ment. Next, the French, thanks to two goals from Drog­ba, passed Liv­er­pool (1:1 at Anfield, 2:1 at the Velo­drome). In the quar­ter­fi­nals, they beat Inter twice — 1:0 — (Drog­ba scored at home).

Drog­ba again decid­ed in the 1/2 finals. Mar­seille sur­vived in New­cas­tle — 0:0, and at the Velo­drome every­thing was decid­ed by Didier’s dou­ble (2:0). Drog­ba was silent in the final, and Rafael Ben­itez’s Valen­cia, who start­ed the tour­na­ment from the first round, scored twice, win­ning their third (after the Cup Win­ners’ Cup and Super Cup) Euro­pean tro­phy in their career. Mar­seille will reach the final of the sec­ond most impor­tant Euro­pean Cup again — in the 2017/2018 sea­son, but will again lose to the Span­ish club with­out goals. This time Atléti­co (0:3).