Gerrard limps off before Liverpool crumble again

Lyons snatch victory at Anfield to hurt home side's Champions League hopes

On a disastrous night at Anfield Liverpool endured their worst sequence of defeats for 22 years and may lose their captain, Steven Gerrard, for Sunday's encounter with Manchester United.

Gerrard, who had missed the weekend's reverse at Sunderland with a groin injury, suffered a recurrence of the problem and limped off after 25 minutes of a 2-1 loss to Lyons, sealed by a last-minute goal from Cesar Delgado. Not since 1987 had the club lost four in a row.

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, who lost his £17m right-back, Glen Johnson, with a similar groin injury before kick-off, denied he had taken a risk starting his captain on a night which left their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League teetering on a precipice. Whether either player will be fit enough to face Manchester United will assessed later in the week.

"It was not a risk to play him," Benitez remarked. "Gerrard wanted to play. The doctor said he was okay and he had been training for two days. Sometimes, it is a matter of luck. It was a difficult game for us but we had too many problems before the game, especially with Johnson injured, but we had chances to win."

Benitez has frequently flirted with – and avoided – non-qualification from the Champions League group stages. Two seasons ago, after gaining one point from their opening three games, Benitez had to oversee three straight wins to steer them through and last night he said he was confident of doing it again.

"We will have to do it," he said. "We will prepare the games like always and be confident we can do things properly. Had we taken our chances, we could have had a different result. We did it two years ago and we can do it again."

Nevertheless, the mood at Anfield was bleak. Jamie Carragher, captaining the side in Gerrard's absence, confessed to feelings of "utter disappointment" while Benitez's substitution of goalscorer, Yossi Benayoun, with Andrei Voronin was greeted by a wave of booing from every corner of the old stadium.

In the starkest possible contrast, the changes made by the Lyons manager, Claude Puel, were instantly successful with substitutes Maxime Gonalons and then Delgado finding the net.

The outcome of Liverpool's next match in Group E, the return against Lyons in the Stade Gerland, is now critical. If Liverpool lose and Fiorentina overcome the whipping boys, Debrecen, then even two victories in their final two matches may not be enough to see Liverpool to the knockout stages.

"We are going through a tough patch," Carragher acknowledged. "But we've been through these before and we'll come through – there is no doubt about that. We always do. We have great fight and great character at Liverpool. The crowd were right behind us, especially when we lost Stevie early on.

"There were a lot of young lads out there tonight and, if we could just have hung on, it would have been a great result for everyone. It would have given everyone a lift but it hasn't happened and we have to move on."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand discusses Trident and the NHS in an episode of the The Trews.
news
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
film
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore