Liverpool's European adventure is over for another year but it could have been a different story. The Reds dominated play for the first thirty five minutes and had a goal to their credit. Then Igor Biscan was rightly sent off but a penalty wrongly given. Marseille scored from it and the Reds simply never played from there on in. If anything even towards the end the Reds seemed to go out with a bit of a whimper rather than an onslaught.
The Reds took to the field at the Stade Velodrome minus their sponsor logo due to advertising laws in France. Marseille kicked off the match. In the sixth minute Marseille keeper Fabien Barthez goes down after being smacked in the nose accidentally by his own defender tracking Heskey back. After a lengthy stoppage for running repairs Barthez returned to action with a huge plaster across his nose.
The game started promisingly for the Reds and they capitalised on early pressure by scoring after just fourteen minutes play. Harry Kewell battled well to win the ball in midfield and Steven Gerrard threaded the ball through for Heskey to run on to. Heskey held of his man before firing it past Barthez. A perfect start for the Reds as it cancelled out the Marseille away goal straight away and meant they had to come out more.
Liverpool continued to dominate much of the first half although Marseille had odd moments up front. Drogba again was the main danger man for the French side. The Reds had a glorious chance to score a second goal on twenty three minutes play. Michael Owen worked hard to win the ball out wide and moved it inside to Murphy who chipped the ball to curl just over Barthez but sadly over the bar as well.
On thirty five minutes it all went wrong though. Liverpool were dominating the game but a through ball for Marlet saw him seemingly hold off Biscan and shoot wide as he fell. The referee had rightly seen Biscan tugging away at Marlet's shoulder and then trying to exchange shorts and sent the Croatian off. What he did next though was to award a penalty kick. The incident was clearly outside the box and the assistant should have flagged as much but the decision was given anyway. Drogba stepped up and rammed the ball high into the net. All square and a man down for the Reds now and they never looked like going through from then on.
There was no change in the side as Gerrard filled in when necessary at right back and pushed up to three at the back when the Reds went forward. Marseille go the ball in the net again before half time but half way through the six added minutes the referee spotted a push from Drogba on Hyypia before he headed past Dudek.
The Reds came out for the second half early and with no changes still in players. Marseille then came out to a huge barrier of noise at the Velodrome. Inside a minute of the half getting underway Drogba was causing panic in the Reds area. Hyypia somehow stopped his first shot and as he shaped to follow up Riise poked the ball out for a corner kick.
The best chance for the Reds in the half came six minutes in as Hyypia rose well to head a Gerrard Corner to the far post only to see it cleared just short of the line. The Reds struggled though to get in to the game and on many occasions it seemed to be twelve against nine as Murphy insisted on playing the ball to Marseille.
The Reds fell two one behind on fifty seven minutes. Meitze rose superbly well to bullet a header past a helpless Dudek in the Reds goal. The curtains were being drawn on the competition by the Reds now unless they could find some fight in themselves. Baros came on for Owen who had started to feel his hamstring on sixty two minutes.
Laurent Battles nearly put the game beyond doubt two minutes later with a spectacular effort at a side on bicycle kick but it went wide and high of the goal. Three minutes later and Carragher had to be very alert to cut out Marlet as he threatened to break in to the area. Carragher was one of the few who actually seemed to want to win on the night and that desire would finally boil over to get him a later booking.
Bruno Cheyrou came on for Danny Murphy on sixty nine minutes but made no impact whatsoever. Carragher picked up his booking on seventy one minutes when the referee chose to show him yellow for talking back. Liverpool were really struggling to put any form of passes together. Pongolle followed with nine minutes to go as he replaced Kewell but he got little time and little service to do anything. Cheyrou shot over the bar with six minutes to go but as time ticked on it just seemed to be a case of lets wait for the final whistle. It finally came and the Reds were dumped out by what in all honesty was an average side.
Overall the Reds were poor once they were reduced to ten men. It will always be hard with ten men and of course you can argue that the penalty should have been a free kick but this tie could have been easier had the job in the first leg been better. Marseille are an average side in a poor league if you ask me. French football as we have seen by our not so cheap imports is poor. This game should have been a stroll in the mistral wind but it was a game where we had to get a result. If anything this sums up Liverpool football club of today in that we are not able to put games beyond doubt anymore. We can only hope we get another chance next season.
MotM : Jamie Carragher - played well in defence throughout the game and tried to support the forward play whenever possible. Gerrard also combined his defending with midfield play well in difficult circumstances.