After The Match 


MARSEILLE-LIVERPOOL 2-1 (1-1)        Thu March 25.       .UEFA Cup 4r-2l
Goals: Heskey (15)        Drogba (38 pen), Meitze (57)
Team: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Biscan, Riise, Gerrard, Hamann, Murphy, Kewell, Owen, Heskey
Subs: Baros (Owen 62), Cheyrou (Murphy 69), Pongolle (Kewell 81)
Not used: Luzi, Traore, Henchoz, Diof
Yellow: Carragher (70)     Mido (90)
Red: Biscan (38)
Referee: Arturo Ibanez (Spain)
Attendance: 50.000

                                                             FIXTURES & RESULTS 
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Fouls conceded:





"...referee has dealt
a bad blow for
Liverpool Football Club."

                 Gerard Houllier

2603: Blowing whistles no excuses
2603: Riise: We're not blaming Biscan
2603: Shattering defeat leaves a bitter taste
2503: Houllier blasts referee
2503: Ten-man Liverpool crash out


Blowing whistle on the excuses

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

The wooden John Barnes and the excitable Jonathan Pearce are reasons why Five's football coverage is often criticised.

But last night they gave us an invaluable insight into the psyche of an under-pressure Liverpool boss.

At half-time, with his team down to 10-men, tactical tweaks surely necessary and an inspirational team-talk required, what was Gerard Houllier's first priority?

Not the Stade Velodrome dressing room, as you'd expect.

Houllier headed for the Five TV gantry to watch a re-run of the controversial penalty incident. To many people it looked like a manager trying to get his excuses ready, while there was still half-a-match to play.

There's no doubt the 37th minute decision changed the match unalterably.

The Reds claim refereeing injustice so often that when they do have a genuine cause for complaint - like last night - their moans lose their impact.

Gerard Houllier gave many Liverpool fans the greatest season of their lives in 2001.

But he was helped by a referee who gave a penalty to Roma, then changed his mind, and a referee who missed two stunning saves - by Stephane Henchoz.

The fact is refereeing decisions generally even themselves out over the course of a season.

Yeovil were adamant Harry Kewell dived in their FA Cup clash - a penalty was awarded - in the opening day Premiership clash with Chelsea, Carlo Cudicini stepped a centimetre off his line after Michael Owen missed a penalty - and the striker was allowed a re-take which he converted.

Liverpool have suffered from referees' decision this season, but no more than they have benefited.

And blaming referees is to hide from the bigger problems which exist.

Riise: We're not blaming Biscan

LFC Official Website

John Arne Riise says nobody at Anfield is blaming Igor Biscan for Liverpool's UEFA Cup exit in Marseille.

Biscan was red carded after 38 minutes when he was adjudged to have fouled Steve Marlet as the French striker bore down on goal. Despite the offence taking place well outside the area, the Spanish referee pointed to the penalty spot and, as a double whammy for the Reds, sent Biscan off.

Liverpool never recovered from being reduced to ten men and their fate was sealed when Meitze headed home the winning goal in the second half.

Riise admits there is a huge sense of disappointment following their exit from the competition, but he says the Reds must quickly pick themselves up and concentrate on their one remaining target this season - fourth place in the Premiership.

"I thought we were the better team at first until they got the penalty," said Riise. "With ten men it is always going to be hard.

"We knew we just needed one goal and that would be enough. It was the same when they made it 2-1. We kept fighting and fighting and kept believing we could get through. We are very disappointed but we gave it our best shot.

"I haven't seen the penalty incident again but I thought the referee played on as Marlet had a shot and missed the goal. At the end of the day we could have defended better but there is no blame on Igor. Anyone can get a red card during a match and everyone is behind Igor. He is not the one to blame.

"I am not going to say anything about the referee as it's not my job. Yes we are disappointed with some of the decisions but now we just have to try and get the fourth place in the Premiership.

"We wanted to win this cup now we have to put all our focus on fourth place. At the start of the season we had different targets but now we have to finish fourth. That would be a good achievement for us as the Champions League is so important to this club."

Shattering defeat leaves a bitter taste

By Len Capeling - Daily Post

Can this shattering season get any more wretched for Liverpool?

Their fans will hope not, while the rest of us continue to wonder.

This latest reversal against Marseille at the cacophonous Stade Velodrome added a huge dose of bitterness to the brew because of the injustice of the struggling French side's equalising penalty. They lost Igor Biscan in that flashpoint incident - and deservedly so for a series of tugs at the speedy Steve Marlet's shorts.

But the first foul took place outside the area and ought to have been punished by a free-kick.

It wasn't, and Marseille's best player, the powerful, potent Didier Drogba - who scored at Anfield - smashed the spot-kick past an airborne Jerzy Dudek.

Some hard-luck stories are no more than useful alibis designed to disguise any shortcomings.

This wasn't because, until Biscan's blunder, Liverpool were in total control, bossing mid-field and defence, and already ahead in the tie through a true striker's finish - hooray! - from Emile Heskey, who partnered Michael Owen up front.

The added anguish for Liverpool is that Owen limped away in the second half with another hamstring strain, thus turning what was already becoming another awful day into some-thing much worse.

On a night that ended so cruelly Liverpool were rarely second-best.

They hunted down Marseille all over the pitch and the Liverpool fans who'd made the long journey to southern France must have been chuffed. Heskey's goal, well-taken and inspired by a recovery tackle from the busy Harry Kewell, slid into the big centre-forward's stride by Steven Gerrard, was just one of the moments to savour.

With Barthez then dripping blood from a nose injury and Liverpool dripping confidence and no little class, a comfortable passage to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup looked rosier than a Mediterranean sunrise.

Even the sight of Marlet racing through a gap and missing the target was a another good sign until Spanish referee Arturo Ibanez called play back, dismissed the horrified Biscan, and awarded a penalty.

It was the turning point, as Big Ron would say.

Marseille are not the most gifted of sides, in spite of the menace of Drogba, and it needed a corner needlessly given away by Hyypia for the match to finally swing away from Liverpool as Meite headed home.

Out, sadly, with a referee and unreliable linesman both culpable. And Biscan crushed by it all.

Lots of heart, lots of good points. But now only a Premiership battle left to fight - and that possibly without Michael Owen.

Houllier blasts referee

BBC Sport Online

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier blamed the referee as his side crashed out of the Uefa Cup with defeat to Marseille.

Houllier felt the decision to send off Igor Biscan and award the French team a second-half penalty was the turning point of his side's defeat.

"It was a very harsh decision, and the wrong one. If he did something wrong, he did it outside the area," he said.

"I don't think it would have been a penalty if it had happened the other way and it changed the whole game."

The Reds were leading through Emile Heskey's goal when Biscan was dismissed and Houllier felt they looked comfortable.

"It came at a time when we were on top and their crowd were beginning to turn on them," he added. "No one seemed to appeal - I thought it was a goal kick.

"I felt the incident was three or four yards outside the box and the referee actually played advantage. What would he have done had they scored? It was a dubious decision.

"If we had been dominated, I would have said, okay, but we were in control and would have gone on to win.

"I saw something happen, but it was well outside the box and maybe should have been just a free-kick - but a penalty and a red card is two bad decisions.

"I have joked recently that it is not players that get you the sack, but referees - and that referee has dealt a bad blow for Liverpool Football Club.

"I feel sorry for the players and the fans. We did not deserve to lose."

Ten-man Liverpool crash out

BBC Sport Online

A header from Abdoulyae Meite sent 10-man Liverpool tumbling out of the Uefa Cup in a 3-2 aggregate defeat.

Emile Heskey's powerful finish had put the Reds ahead after good work from Harry Kewell and Steven Gerrard.

But Didier Drogba levelled matters from the penalty spot after Igor Biscan was given a red card for a professional foul on Steve Marlet.

And after a heavy spell of pressure from the home side, Meite rose highest at a corner to crash home the winner.

Reds boss Gerard Houllier had stuck with the side that beat Wolves at the weekend, keeping Heskey up front with Michael Owen in a 4-4-2 formation.

Drogba, scorer of Marseille's late equaliser in the first leg at Anfield, continued for the French outfit, who brought Marlet back into their starting line-up.

The French had to deal with an early injury to Fabien Barthez, when a collision with Fabien Beye left him with a nasty cut on the bridge of his nose.

But a speculative shot from Marseille's Demetrius Ferreira was the only effort on goal until Liverpool took the lead out of nothing on 15 minutes.

Kewell stole the ball from Laurent Batlles in midfield, allowing Gerrard to find Heskey in acres of space - and he had time to take a touch before beating Barthez with a powerful low drive.

Danny Murphy almost made it 2-0 on 24 minutes when his chip curled just over the bar from the edge of the area with Barthez well beaten.

The Reds were putting together some slick passing moves, while in contrast, Marseille were struggling to find any rhythm.

But that all changed on 38 minutes when a speculative long-range shot from Dietmar Hamann was charged down and the ball broke through to Marlet at the other end.

Igor Biscan tried to haul back the striker outside the box, but after Marlet shot wide the referee brought back play and pointed to the spot - then showed the red card to Biscan.

Drogba stepped up and coolly fired his spot-kick into the roof of the net to bring the tie level again.

And the home side came out with all guns blazing after the restart - only a timely challenge from John Arne Riise stopping Drogba with the goal gaping.

A goal looked inevitable, and it arrived when Meite rose above Gerrard from a corner to send an unstoppable header past Jerzy Dudek and put Marseille ahead for the first time in the tie.

Things got worse for Liverpool soon afterwards when Owen was forced off with a hamstring problem, to be replaced by Milan Baros.

Houllier's side pressed forward in search of a way back into the game, but they lacked inspiration.

Substitute Bruno Cheyrou fired just over from the edge of the area, but that was the closest they came to forcing an equaliser.

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Thor Zakariassen