Marseille edge past Liverpool

Marseille came to Anfield wanting to impress its new coach, and the French team left the hallowed English stadium surprising.

updated: October 07, 2007 17:06 IST
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Marseille came to Anfield wanting to impress its new coach, and the French team left the hallowed English stadium surprising more than just Erik Gerets.

"This was a game we expected to lose," Gerets said after Marseille beat Liverpool 1-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League. "But we felt if we took the initiative and decided to attack it would be a great tactic to take."

Mathieu Valbuena scored the lone goal in the 77th minute to cap a night of superiority against the five-time European champions. The win was Marseille's second straight in Group A of the Champions League.

Mohamed Sissoko lost possession for the Reds, allowing Valbuena to score from the edge of the penalty area. Pepe Reina could do little to stop the ball from dropping into the net off the inside of the crossbar.

"We tried to get men forward and that gave us this victory," Gerets said.

The strong performance was in stark contrast to the French side's domestic record of one win in nine games, which cost Albert Emon his job last week despite beating Besiktas 2-0 in the team's European opener.

Leads Group A

Marseille leads Group A with six points after becoming the first French team to win at Anfield.

It was a dismal night for Liverpool, which lost last season's final to AC Milan and has prioritised the Premier League this season.

"Today it was a bad day. Everything was wrong and we couldn't create chances," Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said. "We were not playing well from the beginning."

The Reds fought for an equaliser in injury time with Sami Hyypia turning Andriy Voronin's corner wide, Yossi Benayoun seeing a header deflected away from goal and Fernando Torres hitting the post after Steve Mendanda initially saved at the feet of Steven Gerrard.

"The ones we chose were not good enough," Benitez said. "I tried to change players, to change positions and we used different strikers. It's disappointing."

Niang Mamadou forced the first save from Reina in the 12th. The hosts didn't force Mendanda to make a save until the 31st when Gerrard unleashed a soft shot from distance.

A couple of minutes earlier, Gerrard had slotted the ball through to Torres but Gael Givet intervened with a well-timed challenge.

Crouch had a penalty claim waved away in the 33rd when Julien Rodriguez appeared to drag the England striker to the ground.

Marseille seemed on the verge of taking the lead in the 35th when Taye Taiwo powered down the left flank and picked out Niang, but he was denied from close range by Reina. He was later adjudged to be offsides.

Liverpool searched for a breakthrough, but it never seemed likely.

Gerrard unleashed a powerful shot from 25 meters in the 65th and Hyypia turned the captain's corner wide 10 minutes later. With 15 minutes to go, Benitez put on Dirk Kuyt to rescue the Reds, but to no avail.