Liverpool rout Marseille 4-0

Steven Gerrard scored for the fifth straight match on Tuesday to lead five-time European champion Liverpool over Marseille 4-0 and a place in the second ro

updated: December 13, 2007 07:33 IST
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Steven Gerrard scored for the fifth straight match on Tuesday to lead five-time European champion Liverpool over Marseille 4-0 and a place in the second round of the Champions League.

Gerrard gave Liverpool the perfect start with a goal in the fourth minute. Fernando Torres scored in the 11th with a solo effort, Dirk Kuyt added a third in the 48th after poor defending from Marseille and substitute Ryan Babel completed the scoring in injury time.

"We needed a big performance. Full of character and hard work. We know we've got the quality," Gerrard said. "It was a cup final scenario. We hope there's more to come."

Liverpool finished second in Group A with 10 points, one point behind Porto, which beat Besiktas 2-0. Marseille finished in third place with seven points for a spot in the UEFA Cup.

"I'm really proud to manage this Liverpool team," Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez said. "The team was really good today. You can't say anything (else). We knew that we had to work really hard as a team and with determination going forward.

"We had plan A and plan B ... and we needed just to use plan A."

Marseille never recovered from conceding an early goal.

"I have to try and understand what happened. Both individually and collectively the opposition was better tonight," Marseille coach Eric Gerets said. "It's a real shame that for the last match we failed completely. My team was in shock after the first goal and never recovered from it."

Because it lost to Marseille 1-0 at Anfield on Oct. 3, Liverpool needed to beat Marseille to qualify.

That task was made easier when Gael Givet chopped down Gerrard after he burst into the penalty area.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda guessed the right way and saved Gerrard's penalty kick, but the Liverpool captain thumped the rebound high into the net.

Then, Torres picked the ball up on the left, cut into the penalty area, dribbled past two Marseille defenders and curled the ball past Mandanda.

"Sometimes it's better to say nothing or you will regret it," Gerets said. "I will wait until tomorrow to analyze the game. It will be painful but I think it's necessary to do this.

"Every ball that went to their forwards was dangerous."

Marseille started with playmaker Samir Nasri on the bench alongside former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse.

Marseille, playing with Mamadou Niang in a lone striker's role, tried to hit quick passes over the top of Liverpool's defense to use Niang's pace, but the Senegal striker was caught offside three times in the first half.

Marseille coach Eric Gerets had seen enough after 33 minutes and decided to replace midfielder Benoit Cheyrou with Nasri, and just before the interval Givet came off for Jacques Faty.

Liverpool continued to trouble Marseille with quick breaks and Gerrard went close with a 40th-minute free kick after Harry Kewell was fouled. A minute later, Kewell fired over from 15 yards (meters) after a loose ball fell to him and Torres flicked the ball casually over the crossbar after beating defender Julien Rodriguez for pace.

Cisse replaced Boudewijn Zenden, another former Liverpool player, at halftime, but he hardly had time to kick the ball before Kuyt netted Liverpool's third.

Mandanda's weak goal kick went straight to Kewell, and he passed to Kuyt. The Dutch forward advanced unopposed into the area and curled the ball into the top left corner.

Babel added the fourth goal when he ran clear and then poked the ball past Mandanda and into the empty net.