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Gerrard double gives Liverpool win
September 17, 2008 08:43 IST
Two first-half goals by Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool a 2-1 win at Olympique Marseille in their opening Champions League Group D match on Tuesday.
Marseille opened the scoring 23 minutes into a lively game when captain Lorik Cana beat an offside trap to collect an astute lob over the Liverpool defence by fellow midfielder Benoit Cheyrou and leave Pepe Reina no chance.
Midfielder Gerrard put Liverpool level with a splendid goal three minutes later, latching on to a fine Dirk Kuyt pass from the right and firing into the top corner from the edge of the box.
The Liverpool captain then gave his side the lead from a penalty which he had to take twice on 31 minutes. The visitors were awarded the spot-kick after Ryan Babel [Images] was brought down in the area by Marseille defender Ronald Zubar.
Former European champions Marseille, who were thrashed 4-0 the last time Liverpool came to their Velodrome stadium in December 2007, put up a brave fight but suffered against opponents physically superior and better organised.
"Reina was the real hero tonight... we were under pressure for 45 minutes. We stopped playing in the second half, we didn't pass well enough," said Gerrard.
"As a team we weren't good enough, other than the back five. But the important thing is to get results when you are not playing well."
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez added: "Gerrard scored a fantastic goal, you could see the quality he has. We are in a very good position now but we have to keep going."
Liverpool put the hosts in danger straight away and Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda had to tip a header by Fernando Torres from a corner over his crossbar on seven minutes.
Marseille responded seven minutes later, Senegal striker Mamadou Niang racing into the box and narrowly missing the target.
The visitors had a similar chance just after that when Dutch winger Babel shot over the crossbar. They came close to scoring again with a low drive from outside the area by Gerrard that Mandanda did well to save.
Marseille furiously ran the ball forward in the second half and had a few opportunities, notably an acrobatic volley by Ivory Coast striker Bakari Kone and a curled effort from the edge of the box by Algeria midfielder Karim Ziani. Both flew over the bar.
Liverpool held tight under pressure to record another morale boosting victory three days after beating arch-rivals Manchester United [Images] 2-1 in the Premier League.
Gerrard and Torres, who had fitness worries, both started the match and were substituted in the second half.
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