Steven Gerrard - fantastic again. (Photo: Allsport)
keep our run going
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
Steven Gerrard has called on his Liverpool
side to extend their remarkable recent run of results.
The Reds have lost just four matches in the calendar year
2008 – and in the 19 league games they have played since
losing at West Ham last January have taken 46 points from
a possible 57.
That sequence surpasses Chelsea, 46 points from the same
period, Manchester United (40 points) and Arsenal (38
After Tuesday’s Champions League victory in Marseille,
skipper Gerrard declared: “I wasn’t aware of our record, but
that’s what we try to do – go on runs.
“The league and the Champions League help each other out
really – winning in one helps winning in another.
“I certainly feel we are stronger than last year. It was
disappointing to lose in the semi-final then, and we want to
go all the way this time, but it’s important not to get
“We know we’re a fantastic side in Europe and it’s always
difficult away from home. We didn’t play well in the second
half but you could see the character and togetherness. We
just don’t like getting beaten.”
Just as it was on Saturday against Manchester United,
Liverpool’s team spirit was significant.
“The mentality we have is very positive,” added the skipper.
“The team was very confident after Saturday.
“Winning brings confidence, and in the changing room before
the game I could sense we were going to get another positive
“We played well first half but in the second Marseille
penned us in and we were under a lot of pressure.
“The real heroes were Jose Reina and the back four. They
were tremendous. We understand we are going to be under a
certain amount of pressure – but to be under pressure for 45
minutes, we will have to look at that. We stopped playing.
“They did not surprise us, we knew that they were a good
team with small guys who are quick, get in good positions
and pass around you. As a team, we were not good enough, but
we are a force in Europe and even when we don’t play well
all the time, we get the results.”
After his first start since a recent groin operation – and
two goals, including one for his own personal Top 10 Goals
collection – Gerrard admitted he was still short of his
“I have had a nightmare pre-season,” he said. “I had
problems with my groin throughout, but that’s behind me
Steven Gerrard - priceless
stock for Liverpool FC
By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo
On the day when the world's markets went
into freefall the stock of Liverpool's most prized asset
continued its inexorable rise.
Steven Gerrard's value to the club he has served with
unstinting distinction was again all too evident as he
ensured Liverpool's latest Champions League campaign got off
to the best possible start with victory in Marseille.
A match winning brace against the only French side ever to
lift the European Cup puts the Liverpool skipper on the
brink of a century of goals in a red shirt – yet another
honour for a player who collects them with an almost
Having been consigned to only a late substitute's appearance
in Saturday's momentous victory over Manchester United,
Gerrard made up for lost time by producing a stellar first
half performance which the French side could not live with.
As has so often been the case, when his side needed him most
Gerrard was there as he grabbed career goals number 98 and
99 to turn a deficit into a decisive lead.
With Atletico Madrid also winning away from home in Group D,
Liverpool now know that should they win all their home games
they will make it through to the knockout stages with the
minimum of fuss – and it is their captain and talisman they
must thank for giving them such a solid platform to build
In a free flowing, end to end encounter Liverpool found
themselves a goal down after 22 minutes when Lorik Cana took
advantage of a hopelessly square Reds backline by coolly
slotting past the exposed Pepe Reina.
Going behind in a stadium renowned for creating a passionate
and partisan atmosphere was a recipe for disaster but in
recent weeks Rafa Benitez's men have played their best
football after the opposition have scored. So it proved
again on this occasion.
No sooner had finger nails begun to be chewed in the away
end than Gerrard popped up to score with a wonderful curling
effort which brought back vivid memories of a near identical
strike at Luton in the FA Cup three seasons ago.
In an instant the previously boisterous Stade Velodrome was
silenced as the home fans sensed that Gerrard's intervention
had instantly ended the momentum that Marseille were
Their sense of foreboding was proved uncannily accurate when
Ryan Babel took advantage of some abject defending by Ronald
Zubar before being brought down in the box by him.
Much more of this and the hapless Zubar will find himself a
transfer target for the next Newcastle boss, whoever that
Konrad Plautz duly pointed to the spot and Gerrard calmly
tucked away the resultant penalty only for the Austrian
official to rule the goal out because of encroachment by
If his first goal had been all about wonderful technique,
Gerrard's second was about an ability to deal with pressure
as he coped admirably with having to re-take the spot kick
by stroking it into the very same corner of Steve Mandanda's
Had the game ended then, Liverpool's ability to come back
from a losing position would have been the abiding theme,
especially with them having repeated the trick for the third
time in their last five outings.
But there was still another half of football to come and it
is a half which will not live long in the memory for anyone
in the Liverpool camp – well, not for the right reasons
Instead of building on their lead, the Reds started to
defend deeper and deeper as a combination of not fully fit
players running out of steam and poor passing took its
Fernando Torres was far from his best after returning from
hamstring trouble and it was no surprise when he was taken
off shortly after the hour mark and was followed soon after
by hero of the night Gerrard.
Without a duo who so often provide their thrust, Liverpool
needed others to provide a cutting edge if they were to turn
a slender advantage into a commanding one.
But with the otherwise menacing Babel unable to add a
finishing touch to several promising moves the Reds were
never able to put themselves out of reach of the plucky
Profligate at one end, Liverpool's concerns were added to by
a lack of assurance and cohesion at the other and Pepe Reina
was increasingly called into action as the match wore on.
Part of the problem was that Javier Mascherano simply did
not have the energy to provide his usual defensive shield
following his Herculean efforts against United – even the
most vigorous of Duracell bunnies need the opportunity to
recharge their batteries every now and again.
With this being the case, it was a surprise Benitez did not
turn to Xabi Alonso to come on and restore order, but
probably not as big a shock as the Spaniard's absence from
the starting line-up as he made way for Lucas.
Like any manager, Benitez stands and falls by his decisions
but unlike some of his contemporaries he could never be
accused of picking a side to suit the fans or his critics in
The case for Alonso's continued inclusion in his team may
well have been compelling but the Reds boss is happy to
ignore even the most persuasive of arguments when he feels
there are better or more suitable options available than the
The fact Liverpool have now lost just one of their last 18
games in all competitions – away at Chelsea in the Champions
League semi-final last April – means he must be getting a
lot more decisions right than wrong.
But had it not been for Reina's now customary excellence in
the closing stages, Benitez would today be facing some
serious accusations about why he allowed a clearly unfit
Mascherano and an off the boil Lucas to toil in central
midfield when he had Alonso on the bench.
Benitez and Liverpool got away with it though and the three
points they secured in Marseille as a result put them in
pole position to qualify for the knockout stages along with
And should their captain continue to prove his undeniable
worth, they could eventually go a lot further.
Masch hails 'special' Gerrard
Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano
believes the 'special' qualities of team-mate Steven Gerrard
help breed confidence at Anfield.
Reds captain Gerrard produced another virtuoso display on
Tuesday as a spectacular equaliser and penalty conversion
secured a 2-1 UEFA Champions League victory at Marseille.
The encounter in the south of France was Gerrard's first
outing in the Liverpool starting XI since returning from a
groin operation, and Mascherano was pleased to have his
Mascherano recognises the ability of Gerrard and feels the
England international is one of the best players in the
"Stevie is a winner and when you have a player like him you
have to enjoy it and allow him to take responsibility,"
Mascherano told the Liverpool Echo.
"It is really good for us to have a player like him because
you can play with confidence with him alongside you.
"He is a truly special player and there are not many players
who can do so many good things for their team and score the
kind of goals he scores."
Mascherano, though, was disappointed that Liverpool could
not produce a performance on a par with that which defeated
Manchester United last Saturday.
"It was a good victory for us," he added. "It was difficult
because we did not play as well as we did against United at
"Marseille played really well and had their fans behind them
and it is never easy away from home, especially in the
"But I the most important thing was the result because the
victory means that we have made a good start which we will
now look to build upon."
Reina hails nerve of Gerrard
By Richard Williamson - Liverpool Daily Post
Pepe Reina believes Liverpool's greater
strength in depth means they are better equipped then ever
for success at home and abroad.
And in skipper Steven Gerrard, the Spaniard says the team
benefits from a player capable of handling pressure in any
It was Gerrard's double strike that ensured Liverpool's
Champions League group campaign got off to a winning start
The Anfield captain reached 99 goals for the club with one
of his best ever strikes, a stunning equaliser from outside
the box just three minutes after the home side had taken the
lead. Then he held his nerve to successfully convert a twice
taken penalty to turn the game on its head in the space of
Reflecting on a second victory in two seasons at the Stade
Velodrome, Reina said: "The nerve of Steven Gerrard is
unbelievable. He showed he can handle the pressure in this
situation. It was incredible."
Reina himself played a key role in the victory, blocking
Niang's late shot when Marseilles seemed certain to
"We knew it would be tough because Marseille are a better
side than they were last season," added the Liverpool
keeper. "They were difficult to handle between the lines
because they have skilful players with pace. They created
problems for us but you expect that in Europe.
"It's a great start for us and it gives us the confidence to
look forward. We are very happy.
"The positive thing is we have a winning mentality and
players who can come in and do a job at the same level as
those they are replacing. There is still a lot of room for
improvement though and we have to keep working hard day
Gerrard: "We weren't good enough"
By Ben Blackmore - Setanta Sports
Steven Gerrard produced another European
wonder show to get Liverpool’s Champions League campaign off
to the perfect start in Marseille, but he declared
afterwards that The Reds “weren’t good enough”.
Gerrard curled a 25-yard dipper and then converted a penalty
as The Reds played some excellent football to lead 2-1 at
However, they finished the match feeling hugely fortunate to
have retained that scoreline after Marseille created a host
of good chances.
“We played well first half but second half they pinned us in
and put us under a lot of pressure. The real heroes tonight
were Pepe Reina and the back four who were tremendous for
us,” Gerrard told ITV.
“We understood we would be under some pressure, but to be
under pressure for 45 minutes – we stopped playing. First
half we passed it well, second half we stopped playing.
“We’ll look at the tapes and see where we went wrong because
second half we didn’t pass it well enough.
“We knew they were a good side, but as a team we weren’t
good enough, except for the back five.”
Rafa: Win puts us in command
By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool are in a
commanding position in Champions League Group D after
recording a 2-1 victory in the Stade Velodrome.
The Reds are level on three points with Atletico Madrid
after Steven Gerrard's brace in France.
Benitez said: "When you play only six games it is important
you win the first. We have got three points from a very
difficult game and that puts us in a good position in the
"I think PSV and Atletico will find it very difficult here."
Despite his delight at the result, Benitez claims his side
can perform even better in the coming weeks.
And the Spaniard admits his side were 'lucky' when Mamadou
Niang missed two gilt-edged chances in the dying moments.
"The team was good, we worked really hard in defence and
played well on the counter attack. We had clear chances but
they had chances as well," said Benitez.
"Pepe Reina was really good at the end and the positive
thing for me is that straight after the game Steven Gerrard
said on television that we can play much better. We played
well but there is room for improvement.
"Marseille were a good team who played well, particularly in
attack. We had some tired players and we made changes to
keep things fresh but clearly we were a bit lucky at the
"The fact that we've come from 1-0 down to win again shows
mentally we were very good and we can recover from difficult
The other Group D fixture saw Atletico beat PSV 3-0 in
Holland. Liverpool will now be hoping for a similar outcome
when they host the Dutch side in two weeks' time.
Super Stevie leads Reds rally
By Ben Blackmore - Setanta Sports
Steven Gerrard moved to within one goal of
a magnificent 100 in a Liverpool shirt, but he will barely
have hit many better in his 99 than the one that inspired
The Reds to a 2-1 victory over Marseille.
Despite playing arguably their best football of the season
in the first half at La Velodrome, Liverpool found
themselves trailing to Lorik Cana’s opener and contemplating
another bad start to a Champions League campaign.
However, on the day that Gerrard was voted ahead of Kenny
Dalglish and Kevin Keegan as Liverpool fans’ ‘best player in
Europe’, he fittingly showed why with a 25-yard beauty that
encapsulated his perfect sense of timing, execution and
Not satisfied there, the Liverpool skipper stepped up to
convert the match-winning penalty, won by the excellent Ryan
Babel, making The Reds huge favourites to qualify for the
Rafa Benitez said after Saturday’s win over Manchester
United that his team would grow in confidence. He wasn’t
wrong. Liverpool’s first half display boasted all the
hassling and harrying on show against United, but there was
added quality – mainly in the shape of Ryan Babel and Steven
Three golden chances in a pulsating three-minute spell
should have seen The Reds cruising, but instead they found
themselves in the familiar position of going a goal down.
Babel was the first to threaten for Liverpool, spinning
instantaneously on Dirk Kuyt’s pass inside the box to slam
the ball over Steve Mandanda’s bar.
Next came Gerrard, this time from a Kuyt flick, but Mandanda
got down low to palm the ball behind. Then, from the
resulting corner, Fernando Torres somehow headed over from
five yards after Martin Skrtel had flicked on.
Worryingly for Liverpool, Lucas Leiva was struggling to stay
close to his men at the other end, and Benoit Cheyrou cut
the visitors to ribbons on 23 minutes – piercing the offside
trap for Marseille captain Cana to slide past Jose Reina.
Liverpool were in no mood to panic though, they have been
behind against Middlesbrough and Manchester United this
season, and in Gerrard they have the world’s best rescue
No more than two minutes after Marseille took the lead,
Gerrard stepped up to Kuyt’s lay-off and whipped the most
perfect 25-yard curler across his body into Mandanda’s far
Liverpool were back in the ascendency, looking dangerous
with every attack – particularly with Babel ghosting in from
the left, and it was the flying Dutchman who bamboozled his
marker with a cunning stepover to win a penalty.
Gerrard stood up, gave the keeper the eyes and buried it.
Halt the celebrations, the referee had ordered a re-take.
Gerrard stepped up, gave the keeper the eyes and buried it -
carbon copy. When there’s a big moment, the Liverpool
skipper always steps up.
The Reds, now in the lead, still had to be careful – Mamadou
Niang was giving Skrtel a hard time and the striker almost
equalised from Taye Taiwo’s cross before half time.
Niang and Hatem Ben Arfa were causing Liverpool their
biggest problems, the latter finding the kind of room Kaka
was afforded in the 2005 Champions League final, while Niang
was always on the shoulder.
Ben Arfa had to be removed 10 minutes into the second half,
but Marseille’s attack kept coming, with Anfield conqueror
Mathieu Valbuena and Bakari Kone causing problems out wide,
and centre back Vitorino Hilton really should have levelled
on the hour mark when rising highest from a corner.
If that was a good chance, Ziani’s moments later was even
better, drilling over after Kone had laid it on a plate with
a clever back heel.
Liverpool were under the cosh and Benitez needed a forward
presence with Torres tiring on his return from injury, and
the Spanish forward made way for Albert Riera with 25
minutes remaining thrusting Babel through the middle.
Twice the move almost paid off, first as Riera produced a
trademark example of left wing play to cross for Babel, who
was foiled at point-blank by Mandanda, and then moments
later the Dutchman smashed against a post as Liverpool
There were still two more moments of massive danger to
withstand for The Reds though as Niang headed wide from
close range, and then fired at Reina's feet in the dying
Victory for Liverpool then and yet another European
adventure begins, don’t bet against that man Gerrard
stealing the headlines come May 27.