United got off to a great start when Hernandez scored inside six months, turning a Rooney cross into the net from a couple of yards out.
United were flying with Rooney pulling the strings. He provided one great ball that Hernández headed too close to Steve Mandanda and later cut in from the left to test the goalkeeper at his near post. Chris Smalling also went close with a header but the hosts did not have it all their own way.
John O’Shea limped off with a hamstring injury, his replacement Rafael suffered a similar injury in the second half, and with the interval approaching, Marseille began to gain a foothold. Souleymane Diawara was wasteful with a headed opportunity in the 36th minute after Taye Taiwo crossed from the left following a short corner. Loïc Rémy also went close, flashing a shot just wide.
Marseille will be kicking themselves that they let this one get away. They created three or four good chances in the opening hour, and failed to take any of them. And Man United made them pay when substitute Antonio Valencia’s clever reverse pass put Giggs clear on the right and his low cross was turned in by Hernandez.
The game seemed over, but when with eight minutes remaining Brown headed Mathieu Valbuena’s corner into his own net, it ensured a nervy last 10 minutes of the game for United fans.
Considering that Man Utd were without Rio, Vidic and Fletcher tonight, and that they lost two right-backs to injuries tonight, Sir Alex had to be happy that his side will be in the hat on Friday.