Saviola inflicts cruel blow as Liverpool's wounded pile up

Monaco 1 - Liverpool 0

Javier Saviola, the Monaco striker who is nicknamed "The Rabbit", last night conjured up the goal which leaves Liverpool needing to win their final first-round game, at home to Olympiakos of Greece, to have any chance of reaching the knock-out stages of the Champions' League. But the Argentinian's winner, which came soon after half-time, provoked protests from Liverpool that he had used a hand to control the ball.

Javier Saviola, the Monaco striker who is nicknamed "The Rabbit", last night conjured up the goal which leaves Liverpool needing to win their final first-round game, at home to Olympiakos of Greece, to have any chance of reaching the knock-out stages of the Champions' League. But the Argentinian's winner, which came soon after half-time, provoked protests from Liverpool that he had used a hand to control the ball.

While not as shameless as his compatriot Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal against England in 1986, Saviola's strike gave Liverpool good cause to feel aggrieved. They must now defeat Olympiakos by two clear goals to be sure of advancing, a task possibly rendered more difficult by injuries to Luis Garcia and Josemi here.

In a contest of few chances, the visitors almost snatched a draw in the 85th minute, only for Sebastian Squillaci to clear Sami Hyypia's header off the line.

Casinos pepper the Monte Carlo landscape and in the absence of his first-choice forwards, Milan Baros and Djibril Cissé, Rafael Benitez gambled on Neil Mellor, for whom Sheffield United recently had a £500,000 offer rejected. Mellor, 22, was asked to forage alone, with Luis Garcia and the fit-again Steven Gerrard supporting from midfield.

That, at least, was the theory. Yet with 100 seconds played, Liverpool lost another attacker to the curse of the injured strikers when Garcia crumpled to the turf clutching a hamstring following an accidental brush with a defender. Josemi was summoned to play at right-back, with Steve Finnan switching to the wide role where Garcia had started.

Monaco have fared disappointingly in the French League, putting Didier Deschamps' position under pressure just six months after he led them to the Champions' League final. However, in both their previous home fixtures in Group A, against Deportivo La Coruña and Olympiakos, they had scored twice inside the first 10 minutes, so Liverpool's solidity in the face of the hosts' early flurries seemed to bode well for Benitez.

In a humdrum opening half it was the 36th minute before Igor Biscan missed the first chance, scuffing a shot wide after John Arne Riise contested a high ball after a throw-in by Finnan. Chris Kirkland had still not made a save before Monaco threatened for the first time in the 44th minute. Ernesto Chevanton's corner was helped by Douglas Maicon to Saviola, whose shot passed through a crowded penalty area but wide of the far post.

Monaco's initial post-interval surge, which featured a shot by Saviola that flew wide and a cross by Maicon which Kirkland cut out athletically, indicated that Deschamps had demanded a higher tempo. If that was the case, the former Chelsea player must have felt vindicated as Monaco broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances in the 56th minute.

By contrast, Benitez gesticulated angrily from the touchline - believing, like his furiously protesting players, that Saviola had used his right hand to control the ball before firing low past Kirkland after the ball broke to him following Traoré's challenge on Shabani Nonda.

Traoré gave way to Harry Kewell, but almost immediately Liverpool's injury crisis deepened. An accidental clash of heads between Josemi and Patrice Evra led to Luis Garcia's replacement departing on a stretcher and the new France international resuming with a bandaged head. Liverpool could have been forgiven for feeling fate had it in for them, but responded positively, Gerrard's driving run ending with a fierce drive that Flavio Roma held with some difficulty.

Monaco (4-4-2): Roma; Maicon, Squillaci, Givet, Evra; Saviola, Zikos, Farnerud, Plasil; Nonda, Chevanton (Perez, 68). Substitutes not used: Audard (gk), Modesto, Kallon, Oshadogan, Adebayor, El-Fakiri.

Liverpool (4-5-1): Kirkland; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traoré (Kewell, 60); Luis Garcia (Josemi, 5; Warnock, 65), Biscan, Hamann, Gerrard, Riise; Mellor. Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Xabi Alonso, Diao, Sinama-Pongolle.

Referee: C B Larsen (Denmark).

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksJK Rowling to publish new story set in wizard's world for Halloween
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker