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Match Summary

Ten-man Liverpool’s season of woe continued as they were beaten by bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth.

Nadir Belhadj screamed in a shot from an acute angle to put Pompey ahead after poor defending from the Reds.

The visitors had Javier Mascherano red carded for a nasty tackle on Tal Ben-Haim before an unmarked Daniel Agger headed high for Liverpool.

Tireless striker Frederic Piquionne’s volley from a tight angle sealed the home side’s victory.

Pompey manager Avram Grant had engineered a Champions League semi-final win over Liverpool in April 2008 during his time as Chelsea boss.

Liverpool’s defence failed to deal with a low Hassan Yebda cross and Kevin Prince-Boateng powered in a shot which keeper Pepe Reina did well to block.

Glen Johnson could only find Belhadj with his tame headed clearance and Reina could do little to stop a thunderous strike from the Algerian which was with his weaker right foot and from the most narrow of angles.

The visitors should have equalised when Agger had a free header from a Gerrard free-kick only to put his effort high from six yards.

As if Liverpool did not have enough problems, the scale of their task increased when Mascherano was sent off.

The Argentine went in hard and with his studs showing on Ben-Haim and, despite needing treatment as he himself came off worst, Mascherano was dismissed by referee Lee Mason.

Benitez has regularly left onlookers puzzled with his team selection and with the creative spark of £20m summer signing Alberto Aquilani out with injury he again surprised many by giving Andreas Dossena a rare start on the left flank in place of Yossi Benayoun.

Benayoun eventually replaced the Italian, but Pompey looked the more likely to score, with Jamie Carragher – making his 600th Liverpool appearance – having to produce a lunging tackle to block a Piquionne strike.

When Liverpool belatedly threatened, Pompey keeper Aasmir Begovic pulled off a great save to claw away a Gerrard shot which took two deflections.

Piquionne should have sealed the win, but horribly mistimed a header from Boateng’s cross, though he soon made up for the error by driving in a late volley after a neat turn.

Team Line-ups and Substitutions

Liverpool Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua (Aurelio 67), Lucas (Spearing 87), Mascherano, Kuyt, Dossena (Benayoun 53), Gerrard, Torres

Unused Subs Cavalieri, Babel, Ngog, Skrtel

Portsmouth Begovic, Finnan, Kaboul, Ben-Haim, Hreidarsson, Yebda, Brown, O Hara, Belhadj, Boateng (Mullins 89), Piquionne (Kanu 90)

Unused Subs Ashdown, Utaka, Hughes, Dindane, Wilson

Referee Lee Mason