Valbuena earns Marseille shock win at Liverpool

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LIVERPOOL, England, Oct 3 (Reuters) Olympique Marseille stunned Liverpool with Mathieu Valbuena's classy goal earning a 1-0 win at Anfield in Champions League Group A today.

Valbuena took a return pass from Bolo Zenden before curling in a 25-metre shot off the underside of the bar in the 76th minute after Momo Sissoko was tackled just outside his area.

''I'm very happy. It's my first goal in the Champions League and it gives Marseille a very important win,'' Valbuena told French TV channel TF1. ''We are very happy tonight.

It was the first time a French team had won at Anfield but was not a fluke victory for new coach Eric Gerets in his first game in charge of a Marseille side that has won just one of their nine domestic league games this season.

Liverpool did not really threaten until the final minutes when Fernando Torres hit the post with a close-range shot.

Marseille were given little chance of causing an upset against last season's beaten finalists but missed several chances that could have led to a bigger winning margin.

The victory puts Marseille top of Group A with six points followed by Porto, who won 1-0 at Besiktas, on four and Liverpool with one point. Besiktas are still looking for their first point having lost their opening two games.

''Being first in the standings is wonderful especially after a victory at Liverpool which is not achieved by every team visiting Anfield,'' added Valbuena.

DISJOINTED LIVERPOOL Liverpool carried their recent patchy Premier League form into the match with a disjointed performance including below-par displays from striker Peter Crouch and midfielder Sissoko.

Marseille in contrast showed the confidence gained from a 2-0 win over Besiktas in their first group match by attacking Liverpool as they left their poor league form back in France.

In the early stages, Fabio Aurelio was robbed by Karim Ziani who fed Mamadou Niang in enough space to shoot inside the area, forcing Pepe Reina to save with his knee.

Captain Lorik Cana headed a Laurent Bonnart cross over the bar in the 21st minute before Niang missed his kick in front of goal moments later.

The French side were just as dangerous in the second half with Niang again troubling Reina.

But it took an impressive goal to break the deadlock with Valbuena taking a neat return pass from ex-Liverpool midfielder Zenden before curling the ball into the net off the bar.

Liverpool responded with Sami Hyypia heading a corner wide and Yossi Benayoun having an effort saved before Torres hit the woodwork. However, an equaliser for Rafael Benitez's team did not come and would not have been deserved.

REUTERS SBA AS0257

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