Thursday, December 27, 2007

Marseille 0-4 Liverpool

Liverpool overwhelmed Marseille to win a third successive Champions League Group A game and reach the last 16.
Steven Gerrard won a penalty on four minutes and although his spot-kick was saved by Steve Mandanda, the Liverpool captain crashed home the rebound.
Fernando Torres then scored a superb solo goal, beating a posse of Marseille players before curling the ball in.
Early in the second half Dirk Kuyt swept home a third and in stoppage time Ryan Babel broke clear for the fourth.
The victory capped a remarkable recovery in Liverpool's Champions League campaign, given that after three games Rafael Benitez's side had found themselves bottom of the group with just one point.
Three years ago Liverpool's final Champions League group game against Olympiakos at Anfield had required a spectacular late Gerrard goal to secure a dramatic passage to the knockout rounds.
The Marseille tie looked even more tense potentially, but two goals inside the opening 11 minutes provided the platform for a comfortable victory.
Just as he had done against Olympiakos, Gerrard proved pivotal, with the skipper having an eventful start to the game.
Kuyt's pass from the kick-off was too short and Gerrard was left writhing in agony as he was tackled by Mamadou Niang.
He took a couple of minutes to shake off the injury, but when Gerrard had recovered the spring in his step he won the penalty that led to Liverpool's opening goal.
A neat interchange between Kuyt and Torres set free the marauding Gerrard who powered his way to the Marseille penalty area.
Gael Givet's sliding tackle was badly misjudged providing Gerrard with the chance to put Liverpool ahead from the penalty spot.
Gerrard passed up that opportunity as Mandanda got a hand to his penalty kick, but the Liverpool captain was quick to smash the rebound into the roof of the net.
Torres's goal was beautifully executed.
After receiving a pass from Harry Kewell, the Spanish striker scooped the ball round Julien Rodriguez to create a slither of space in front of Mandanda's goal.
And Torres finished off his scintillating approach play with a rolled pass into the corner of the goal.
With Marseille showing little signs of troubling Liverpool's defence the French club's coach Eric Gerets introduced the French young player of the year Samir Nasri just past the half-hour.
The French international had an immediate impact, lifting the spirits of the Marseille crowd and winning a couple of free-kicks.
But Liverpool weathered Nasri's arrival and Gerrard went close with a free-kick as did Kewell with a volley.
Torres continued to torment Rodriguez, ghosting past the former Rangers defender, only to lift his shot over the bar.
At the restart Gerets made his second substitution, throwing on Djibril Cisse, but rather than revive the Marseille cause the former Liverpool striker found himself looking on as Kuyt extended Liverpool's lead.
Mandanda's poor clearance only reached Kewell and the Australian's quick-thinking and pass found Kuyt unmarked in the box.
The Dutchman paused to consider his options before sweeping the ball past Mandanda.
Cisse went close with a header for Marseille, but Liverpool added a fourth in stoppage time as substitute Babel ran clear and then past Mandanda to slip the ball into an empty net.
Marseille: Mandanda, Bonnart, Rodriguez, Givet (Faty 45), Taiwo, Cheyrou (Nasri 34), Ziani, Zenden (Cisse 46), Cana, Valbuena, Niang. Subs Not Used: Mate, Oruma, Zubar, M'Bami.
Booked: Cana.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Kewell (Aurelio 67), Mascherano, Gerrard, Benayoun, Kuyt (Lucas 86), Torres (Babel 77).Subs Not Used: Itandje, Finnan, Crouch, Hobbs.
Booked: Carragher, Aurelio.
Goals: Gerrard 4, Torres 11, Kuyt 48, Babel 90.

Att: 53,000
Ref: Terje Hauge (Norway).

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