After The Match 


Liverpool-Marseille 1-0 (1-0)        26.11.08                         CL
Goals: Gerrard (23)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Aurelio, Carragher, Agger, Mascherano, Alonso, Riera, Kuyt, Gerrard, Torres
Subs: Dossena (Aurelio 46), Benayoun (Riera 63), Lucas (Kuyt 85)
Not used: Cavalieri, Babel, Keane, Kelly
Yellow: Mascherano (84)                   Niang (84)
Red: None
Referee: Olegario Benquerenca (Por)
Attendance: 40,024
Shots on target: 4-4
Shots off target: 2-5
Blocked shots: 0-1
Fouls conceded: 21-8
Corners: 6-3
Offsides: 6-4
Possession: 54-46
Yellow: 1-1
a difficult game..."
Rafael Benitez
2711: Bill Shankly’s simple truths go on show
2611: Rafa: Winning was all-important
2611: Gerrard happy with Euro progress
2611: Gerrard calms Reds nerves 

Bill Shankly’s simple
truths go on show

Comment by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

He might have taken a European record from him last night, but Rafa Benitez was happy to share some of Bill Shankly’s homespun philosophy.

“Football is a simple game, complicated by idiots,” was one of the Scottish bard’s most famous pronouncements.

And Benitez kept it brutally simple last night.

“If we want to win, we will have to play better than we did against Fulham here on Saturday,” he wrote in his programme notes.

They did. But it was a close run thing.

Liverpool’s passing was appalling . . . again.

Possession was squandered with a reckless regularity, promising moves broke down time and again – and Marseille were invited to build up a head of steam which resulted in a very nervous last half-hour.

But, as they have done several times already this season, Liverpool did just enough.

The difference, as it so often is, was Steven Gerrard.

The skipper kicked off his own programme column by declaring: “We can’t afford too many afternoons at Anfield like the one we had last Saturday.”

He was referring to the level of performance against Fulham.

But equally he might have meant that Liverpool can’t afford too many afternoons – or evenings – with their skipper on the sidelines.

Because even when his attempts to force a breakthrough broke down, they were usually through trying something inventive and ambitious – like the sublime control on the edge of Marseille’s penalty area, instantly killing a ball which had dropped from beyond the Centenary Stand roof, followed by a cute backheel.

The fact it went straight to nobody was pretty much indicative of Liverpool’s entire evening.

But Gerrard did start and finish the 23rd minute move which ensured qualification for the knockout stages – and left Marseille nursing a severe case of what might have been.

With Bakari Kone – a striker sporting more bandages than Boris Karloff managed in The Mummy – Hatem Ben Arfa and Mamadou Niang, running positively and penetratingly at a stretched Reds rearguard, Liverpool needed Pepe Reina to be at his most alert.

Happily the goalkeeper was, but there were too many other uncharacteristically sloppy performances from men in Red.

Once again the relief came from their happy knack of still managing to grind out a victory despite the display. It won't have gone unnoticed at Anfield that Chelsea struggled once again themselves, and failed to win their match.

Sadly Andrea Dossena’s comical cameo was in character with the way his Anfield career has started, but at least his interventions weren’t costly – one reckless lunge falling inches short of conceding a penalty.

At least the 1-0 win ensured that Liverpool can now leave some of their key players on the sidelines when they go to Eindhoven early next month, because the last group game is now a dead rubber.

But when there’s something at stake, the Reds must have men like Steven Gerrard in the line-up.

Another Shankly observation was that Liverpool usually won trophies because they had the best players.

That’s why Liverpool won last night, even though most of those players failed to spark.

Rafa: Winning was all-important

By Joe Curran - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez insisted that winning was all that mattered after the Reds booked their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with a narrow 1-0 win over Marseille at Anfield.

The Reds boss admitted his side had not performed to their full potential, but after a nervy display against the French outfit, he was relieved to get the three points.

"It was a difficult game, but at the end of the day we won and that is the main thing," said Benitez.

"I think the game was a bit strange because we scored a goal and then they were attacking, and we could only play on the counter attack.

"We played open against a team who have pace and ability - this is always a problem.

"They needed to attack and had three strikers. They also had one or two players between the lines, so to control five players with pace and ability isn't always easy.

"We knew before the game that they have food players and we were not controlling the game or keeping the ball - the game was too open and they had too much space. They were always a theat.

"We were trying to play Torres in with the final pass too quickly sometimes, and that is something we have to analyse. But the main thing today was to win and qualify, so we are really pleased.

"Clearly we need to improve our possession - we need to keep the ball better and were giving it away too easily."

Steven Gerrard scored his fifth Champions League goal of the season to become joint-top scorer in the competition with Barcelona's Lionel Messi, and Benitez revealed he was happy with his skipper's match-winning contribution.

"We know that Gerrard is an attacking midfielder with a very attacking mentality so he can score goals. He is very important player for us and his goal proved it."

Gerrard happy with Euro progress

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

Steven Gerrard insists Liverpool are determined to win Group D after securing their place in the last sixteen of the Champions League with victory over Marseille.

The Reds will definitely be in the competition when the draw for the knock-out phase is made, but they must wait until after the final round of matches to discover if they will qualify as group winners ahead of Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish side top the group on goal difference, but must play their final game away in Marseille while Liverpool travel to take on PSV Eindhoven.

Gerrard admits it was a job well done against the French side, but accepts there were perhaps too many nervy moments in the second period as Eric Geret's side chased an equaliser.

"It was nervy but it was a job well done," said the skipper. "We wanted the three points and a clean sheet and we got it. We lost control in the second half and there are a lot of things that need looking at.

"Marseille deserve credit because they were organised. We knew it would be difficult because they are fighting to stay in the competition. But we stuck together, defended well and hopefully in the next couple of days people will forget the second half performance and see that we have qualified.

"We know what we have to do in PSV on the last day. We have been there before and won so we have a lot of confidence. We want to win this group because I think it's important going into the last sixteen. There are no easy games in this competition, but if you want any kind of advantage then you want to win the group.

"We are good away from home in Europe and now we have to go and prove it again."

Gerrard calms
Reds nerves

Football 365

Steven Gerrard's first-half header helped Liverpool beat Marseille 1-0 to book their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The Reds skipper, back in the team after recovering from a groin injury, netted the winner at Anfield after 23 minutes to add to the two goals he scored against the French side earlier in the competition.

The goal was Gerrard's fifth in five Champions League games this season and makes him the tournament's top scorer this term. But more importantly it books the Reds' place in the last 16 of the competition for the fifth successive season.

Rafa Benitez's side made a bright start, but were unable to find a way past a stubborn Marseille rearguard until Dirk Kuyt's 22nd-minute header forced a smart low save from Steve Mandana in the visitors' goal.

But a minute later he was powerless to prevent Gerrard's bullet header flying past him from 12 yards after Xabi Alonso's terrific deep right-wing cross picked him out at the back post.

But Marseille twice came close to levelling matters 10 minutes before half-time when first Taye Taiwo unleashed a powerful 25-yard free-kick which almost caught Jose Reina by surprise but was pushed out at the expense of a corner. From the resulting flag-kick, Ronald Zubar headed wide from six yards after the Spanish keeper came out and flapped at the ball.

Albert Riera then forced a smart low save from Mandana as the half drew to a close with the Reds again on the attack.

But it was the visitors who came out the more hungry as the second half got underway with Zubar again heading wide at the back post and Mamadou Niang then failing to make the most of two opportunities in front of goal.

Marseille were coming more and more into the game and it took a fantastic one-handed save from Reina to keep out Hatem Ben Arfa's fierce left-footed free-kick from the edge of the area. Andrea Dossena then made an excellent block to prevent Niang's goal-bound effort from reaching Reina.

The French side continued to search for a leveller but were unable to find a way through as Liverpool secured their place in the next stage with a match to spare alongside Atletico Madrid, who were 2-1 winners over PSV.

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Thor Zakariassen ©