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).

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Voices
Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré deliver an anti-fracking letter to No 10 last week
voicesThe great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick