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
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

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

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London