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Valbuena grateful for Anfield memories

Mathieu Valbuena said he will "always remember this game" after scoring the goal that made Olympique de Marseille the first French side to win at Anfield.

Mathieu Valbuena celebrates his goal
Mathieu Valbuena celebrates his goal ©Getty Images

Olympique de Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena said he would "always remember this game" after striking the only goal of his side's shock 1-0 win against Liverpool FC on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old's curling, long-range strike crashed down off the crossbar and beyond Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina with 13 minutes to play as underdogs Marseille became the first French club side to win at Anfield. "I was afraid it wouldn't go in because the ball hit the crossbar, but when I saw it had I was filled with joy and I immediately went over to the fans," said Valbuena. "I may have scored but the rest of the game was intense and it was a great team performance."

No fear
It was some way to mark his debut in the competition, and some achievement for the Bordeaux native, who two years ago was playing for third division side FC Libourne Saint-Seurin prior to joining Marseille. Valbuena was only in the team because of illness to Samri Nasri and his "no-fear" spirit clearly rubbed off on his team-mates who ceded no ground to last year's finalists during coach Erik Gerets's first match in charge.

Gerets replaced Albert Emon ten days ago and has already carved himself a place in French football folklore with what he described as an "historic" night. Dominique Bathenay and Didier Drogba are the only other players to have scored for a French side at Anfield, but only Valbuena has struck a winning goal, ending a winless streak stretching back nine games since AS Saint-Etienne became the first French side to play at Anfield in the the quarter-finals of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup in March 1977.

'Reference point'
For Gerets, though, the hard work is just beginning. "This isn't my team yet," the Belgian said. "I must thank Albert [Emon] for the work he did." Defender Julien Rodriguez added: "Gerets told us that those who didn't want to come here and win could stay at home. We knew we could produce a game like this. Now we need to build on it." OM president Pape Diouf concurred. "I just saw a real team," he said. "Let's celebrate this moment but this game must become a reference point for us from now."

OM believe
Ten days ago Marseille dropped to 16th in Ligue 1 following a 2-0 loss at AJ Auxerre. Their domestic form could hardly contrast more sharply with their results in the UEFA Champions League where they now lead Group A by two points from their next opponents FC Porto. OM, the only French team to have won the European Cup, are now clear favourites to reach the knockout round. "We need four points from four games and the team I saw tonight can do it," said Gerets.