Saviola the saviour as Liverpool fall to Monaco

24th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

MONACO, Nov 23 (AFP) - Liverpool's qualification for the knockout phase of the Champions League is now hanging by a thread after a shock 1-0 defeat by Monaco kept alive the hopes of last year's finalists here Tuesday.

MONACO, Nov 23 (AFP) - Liverpool's qualification for the knockout phase of the Champions League is now hanging by a thread after a shock 1-0 defeat by Monaco kept alive the hopes of last year's finalists here Tuesday.

Argentine Olympic champion Javier Saviola grabbed the game's only goal in a second half in which Monaco, without a win in their past eight French league games, gave their coach Didier Deschamps a reason to smile.

Liverpool have to beat Olympiakos in their final group A match in two weeks' time to qualify as Monaco go second in the group on nine points, one behind the Greek side - who beat Deportivo La Coruna - and two ahead of Liverpool.

Deschamps was pleased to still be in the hunt although he moaned about having to win the final game in Spain - to be sure of going through - against a Deportivo side that they comfortably beat earlier in the campaign.

"We had to win this one," said France's 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning skipper.

"However because of Olympiakos's victory we need to beat Deportivo to ensure we go through.

"This victory was not easy but our spirit was superb.

"I was not in the least bit frightened when Liverpool attacked."

The visitors had a debilitating start when Luis Garcia pulled up clutching his hamstring while chasing a through ball from Steven Gerrard after only two minutes.

Garcia was soon replaced by Josemi who dropped back to defence while Steve Finnan moved up to the wing.

The loss of Garcia was the last thing Liverpool needed given their injury crisis up front - Milan Baros and Djibril Cisse both being unavailable through injury.

As a result, Liverpool had few chances in the first half although both John Arne Riise and Igor Biscan came close to giving the visitors an early opener.

After a nice square ball from Gerrard on the right Riise made good contact from the edge of the area but his header was caught low by Flavio Roma.

Monaco were hardly setting their home stadium alight either, and only began to put their game together towards the end of the half.

Twice, Jamie Carragher was on hand to clear for the visitors, the first after Shabani Nonda's mazy run down the right, then following a corner which nonetheless afforded Saviola a free shot on Chris Kirkland's goal which sailed wide.

Biscan's effort followed a long throw-in from the right by Josemi which bounced over the heads of Monaco's defence, but the Croat's half-struck shot trundled wide.

Liverpool appeared more positive after the restart when Gerrard linked well with Riise in deep, but it was Saviola who began to threaten, the Argentine finding time and space on the edge of the area before fluffing his shot wide.

Saviola then linked well with Nonda, who was tackled superbly by Djimi Traore as he was about to shoot when through alone on Kirkland.

The rebound fell to the little Argentine, who beat the stranded keeper at his right hand post.

At the other end Gerrard replied with a shot which tested Roma's reflexes.

But for Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez it was time for desperate measures. The Spaniard took off big defender Traore for Aussie striker Harry Kewell.

A sickening clash of heads between Patrice Evra and Josemi then delayed the game, and while Evra played on with a bandage Josemi was replaced by Stephen Warnock.

Liverpool won two free kicks in succession, but the best they could come up with was a low drive from Gerrard on the right edge of the area which forced Roma down fast to hold the ball.

At the other end Kirkland was at his best to stop a well-struck drive from Pontus Farnerud after he had picked up Sami Hyypia's header from a throw-in deep on the right.

Benitez's gamble did not appear to be paying off, and the visitors were guilty of slackness at the back which almost gave wingback Maicon a free shot on Kirkland.

Minutes later and with time ticking away Liverpool's frustration showed when Warnock fouled defender Francois Modesto with a two-footed lunge which got him a yellow card.

Hyypia then had a free header on goal, but it was blocked low and claims for a penalty were waved away.


Subject: French News

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