Olympique Lyonnais asserted their supremacy at the top of Group E in superb fashion as they came from behind to record a famous victory at Liverpool FC through goals from substitutes Maxime Gonalons and César Delgado.
Liverpool looked on course to claim the three points after shrugging off a slow start and taking a 41st-minute lead through Yossi Benayoun but Lyon revived impressively in the closing stages and after young defender Gonalons had headed them level, the stage was set for Delgado's added-time winner. Miralem Pjanić sent Sidney Govou into the box down the right and though his cross evaded both Pepe Reina and Bafétimbi Gomis, Delgado was on hand to turn it in at the far post. For Lyon, a glorious denouement on their Anfield debut; for Liverpool, serious concerns after their second defeat in Group E and fourth in succession – their worst run since 1987.
Liverpool came into the game in need of a restorative result yet, already handicapped by the absences of Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson – necessitating a rare start for David Ngog and a first start for Martin Kelly respectively – they then lost Steven Gerrard, the captain lasting just 25 minutes of his return after a groin problem. At that stage, Rafael Benítez's team had struggled to trouble the visitors. Gerrard had seen an early shot deflect into the side-netting while Dirk Kuyt's push on Jérémy Toulalan meant his subsequent headed goal did not stand.
The best early opening had come at the other end with Lisandro looking certain to score when he got his head to Aly Cissokho's superb cross but directing the ball too close to Reina. Govou then tried a spectacular volley but blazed over. As it was, Gerrard's replacement, Fábio Aurélio, made a telling contribution as Liverpool seized control during a strong finish to the half. The Brazilian, operating in left midfield, almost set up a breakthrough after 36 minutes, retrieving an overhit Kelly cross and returning the ball to the middle where Kuyt's shot was blocked and Ngog's volley stopped by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Aurélio's next cross, driven low, did lead to a goal. The ball deflected off Cris and across goal where Kelly missed his kick but Benayoun, arriving at the far post, swept the ball past Lloris. That was Cris's last contribution, the defender leaving on a stretcher with apparent concussion having earlier felt Kuyt's knee crash against his head. Aurélio himself then almost added a second, his header from a fine centre by Kelly drawing an excellent one-handed stop from Lloris.
Liverpool remained on top after the restart but missed opportunities to extend their lead, Benayoun and Ngog both going close before Lloris turned behind Kuyt's header. To their credit Lyon kept going and their reward came in the 72nd minute with Gonalons' equaliser. After Reina had flapped at a corner, the Spaniard looked to have redeemed himself with spectacular saves from Toualalan and Jean II Makoun but despite Kelly's best efforts on the line there was no stopping Gonalons' ensuing header. Not a bad way for the 20-year-old makeshift centre-back, Cris's replacement, to score his first senior goal and there was even better to follow for the visitors as Delgado followed suit, the Argentinian opening his UEFA Champions League account in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.