comeback leaves liverpool reeling published: friday 26 march 2004, 0.55cet marseille 2-1 liverpool (agg: 3-2) didier drogba and abdoulaye méïté see olympique de marseille through.
by matthew spiro at the stade vélodrome
olympique de marseille came from behind to beat ten-man liverpool fc and book a place in the uefa cup quarter-finals against fc internazionale, didier drogba's penalty and a header from abdoulaye méïté cancelling out emile heskey's opener.
three-man defence marseille coach josé anigo once again chose to employ a three-man defence, despite seeing his side concede four goals at stade rennais fc on sunday. captain brahim hemdani lined up as sweeper, while steve marlet partnered drogba in attack. liverpool started with heskey alongside michael owen, with harry kewell in a free role just behind the two strikers.
barthez blow neither side settled quickly, and the opening exchanges were notable only for a facial injury sustained by marseille goalkeeper fabien barthez. play was held up for several minutes as the french international received treatment - but, having recovered, he was picking the ball out of his net in the 15th minute. kewell stole possession from laurent batlles and when the loose ball broke for steven gerrard his slide-rule pass sent heskey through. the england forward made no mistake, striking the ball hard and low into the net.
perfect platform the strike cancelled out drogba's away goal from the first leg and gave liverpool the ideal platform on which to build. the visitors immediately looked more confident and capable of extending their lead as they hit marseille with a series of counterattacks.
visitors on top kewell would have been clean through in the 22nd minute had he managed to control a high ball, while danny murphy was unlucky to see his curling shot fly just over the crossbar moments later. owen, in particular, was finding space and méïté had to time his tackle to perfection to prevent the striker latching on to heskey's dummy.
penalty leveller the complexion of the game changed eight minutes before half-time, however. an exquisite through-ball from batlles sent marlet clear and, though the striker's shot flashed wide of the post, the referee ruled that he had been pulled back by igor bišcan. the croatian defender was shown a red card and drogba duly dispatched the penalty high into the net to level the tie.
tactical reshuffle liverpool switched to a three-man defence at the interval, with kewell and gerrard playing as wing-backs, but they were soon under pressure in the second half. manuel dos santos chipped in a cross from the left that drogba controlled beautifully on his chest before sami hyypiä whisked the ball clear as the striker shaped to shoot.
méïté on the mark marseille continued to press forward but were issued a warning on 53 minutes when hyypiä met murphy's left-wing corner with a firm header that was headed off the line by dos santos. five minutes later, though, the home side took the lead from a corner of their own, demetrius ferreira leite drilling his cross over from the right and méïté powered his header in from close range.
owen off liverpool looked to respond immediately, as heskey broke down the left and crossed low for owen at the near post, but barthez was out quickly to deny the striker. it was owen's final contribution as he was replaced suffering from a tight hamstring by milan baroš shortly after the hour mark.
cheyrou close the visitors did their best to find the second away goal they needed to qualify but bruno cheyrou's wayward left-foot volley six minutes from time was the closest they came, as barthez dominated his penalty area. marseille held out with little difficulty and will welcome inter here on 8 april.