Reds slump to shock defeat
Liverpool remain without a win in this season's Champions League after slumping to a shock 1-0 defeat to Marseille.
By Peter Fraser
Last Updated: 03/10/07 10:57pm
Liverpool remain without a win in this season's UEFA Champions League after slumping to a shock 1-0 defeat to Marseille.
The French side, who have been struggling in Ligue 1 and have recorded only one league win this season, became the first side from across the Channel to defeat Liverpool at Anfield in European club competition when Mathieu Valbuena curled in on 77 minutes.
The first 45 minutes was a lacklustre affair but new Marseille manager Erik Gerets, who was in charge of his first game, was unfortunate not to see his side in front when a Karim Ziani goal was disallowed for offside.
Peter Crouch had started the game for Liverpool, but the striker had little service alongside Fernando Torres as the Reds struggled to develop possession and failed to test Steve Mandanda in the visitors' goal.
After the break Marseille continued to enjoy their evening and scored the goal they deserved 13 minutes from time when Mohamed Sissoko was robbed in possession and the highly impressive Valbuena hit home from 20 yards.
The visitors' midfield of Valbuena, Benoit Cheyrou and Karim Ziani dominated, with skipper Lorik Cana effortlessly controlling play from the holding role.
Liverpool were constantly ambushed in possession, or just gave the ball away. They looked a yard slower at almost everything in a very worrying first half.
With Sissoko let down by his passing and skipper Steven Gerrard forced to do the running of several of his team-mates, it was a miracle that Liverpool were still level at the break.
Marseille were almost ahead early on when Ziani robbed Fabio Aurelio and set up Mamadou Niang in the box, the resulting shot cannoning away off Jose Reina's knee.
Gerrard was booked for a tackle on Cheyrou before Niang missed a clear volley from Taye Taiwo's deep cross. Former Liverpool man Boudewijn Zenden was effective on the left, neatly moving into space inside.
Sebastian Leto, preferred on the left to John Arne Riise and Ryan Babel, started competitively but was soon being swept aside as Marseille continually surged forward, Valbuena a constant threat.
It took Benitez just five minutes of the second half to replace Leto with Riise, Sissoko having already been booked for a foul on Valbuena.
It was not much better elsewhere in Liverpool's ranks, and when Valbuena's clever turn exposed Jamie Carragher, the Anfield defender was the next to be booked for hauling back the elusive playmaker.
Benitez was a picture of annoyance on the line, and when he opted to bring on Andriy Voronin, he changed his mind about who was to come off. First it was Torres, and then after a quick rethink, Fabio Aurelio was replaced.
At the same time Marseille brought off Niang and replaced him with Djibril Cisse, who got a warm reception from the Anfield fans.
Dirk Kuyt was next into the fray for Liverpool, taking over from Crouch, who had made little impact even if the amount of decent possession he was afforded was minimal.
Eventually Marseille got the goal they deserved - and it followed squandered possession by Sissoko in the 77th minute. The ball was quickly moved by Zenden to Valbuena, who saw his 20-yard shot crack against the angle of the bar and post on its way into the net.
Gail Givet had barely given Torres a yard all night, and it says something for the efforts of Liverpool's forwards that it was Sami Hyypia who had their best two efforts before Yossi Benayoun saw a low header pushed away by Steve Mandanda in injury-time.
Torres then hit a post after Gerrard had stormed through to cause chaos in the Marseille box.
But the French clung on and Liverpool just did not deserve anything from this, all their best efforts coming in four minutes of injury time.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||7|
|6||Shots off Target||8|