Reds start with a win
By Al Campbell
Updated Wednesday, 17th September 2008
Liverpool have won their opening Champions League group game.The Reds beat Marseille 2-1 in the Stade Velodrome last night thanks to a first half double from Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool had the best early chances with Fernando Torres heading over the bar, Gerrard forcing a save from Steve Mandanda and Ryan Babel shooting narrowly over after a fine first touch bought him space in the box.
It was Marseille who took the lead however. On 23 minutes Benoit Cheyrou- brother of Liverpool flop Bruno- played an inch perfect through ball for Cana who calmly slotted past Reina.
The French side were in the lead for a mere three minutes. The Marseille midfield dithered on the ball allowing Torres to rob them of posession and burst forward. He played it to Kuyt who laid it off for Gerrard. The pass was slightly behind Gerrard- it was probably meant for Arbeloa who was just behind him- but the captain made the sweetest of connections to loop the ball over Mandanda and into the far corner of the net.
Five minutes later it was 2-1. Babel found space in the box, ran at the defender who clumsily stuck a leg out and brought him down for a stonewall penalty.
Steven Gerrard stepped up and hammered the ball in off the post. However, the referee ordered the spot-kick to be retaken as Dirk Kuyt had entered the penalty box before the kick was taken. It made no difference to Gerrard who put the retaken penalty in exactly the same spot and put Liverpool in front.
In the second half the Reds were under far more pressure as Marseille stepped up a gear and Saturday's extersions began to take their toll. Liverpool held out for the win however thanks to some fine defending from Jamie Carragher and even better goalkeeping from Pepe Reina.