Lyon piled the pressure on Rafa Benitez with a 2-1 Champions League Group E win at Anfield to condemn Liverpool to their fourth straight loss.
The Reds went into the match needing a morale-boosting victory to lift spirits ahead of Sunday’s colossal showdown with champions Manchester United.
And when the hosts went into the interval with a 1-0 lead handed to them by the dependable Yossi Benayoun, they seemed to be on their way – and that in spite of losing skipper Steven Gerrard after 25 minutes to a recurrence of his calf injury.
But Maxime Gomis’ second-half header pulled Lyon level, before Cesar Delgado stunned Anfield into silence with an injury-time winner.
The French side made a lively start to the evening and spurned a great chance to take the lead when Pepe Reina denied Lisandro Lopez’s six-yard header.
The Reds then thought they had gone ahead when Steven Gerrard’s delivery found the head of Dirk Kuyt, but the Dutchman was correctly flagged offside.
The Reds were struggling to get to grips with Lyon’s resurgent midfield and their hopes suffered a blow when Gerrard was withdrawn after 25 minutes after suffering a recurrence of his groin injury.
However, Liverpool hit back in determined fashion and Hugo Loris made a fine double save to deny first Kuyt and then David Ngog.
But the Reds weren’t to be denied and when substitute Fabio Aurelio’s drilled cross was missed by Martin Kelly, Benayoun was on hand to control the ball and fire home from six yards after 41 minutes.
And Liverpool almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Kelly’s cross picked out Aurelio, but Loris made a spectacular flying save to push the Brazilian’s header over the crossbar.
Benayoun headed a good chance just wide as the second half got underway, while a downward header from Kuyt was well pushed out by Loris at the expense of a corner.
But the Reds began to look edgy again and it was no surprise when Lyon notched a leveler after 72 minutes when Reina made a smart double save but was powerless to prevent Maxime Gonalons from steering a diving header inside the post to make it 1-1.
Liverpool went in search of a winner, but a rapid break saw a cross from the right pick out Delgado, who tucked in at the back post to silence the Kop and leave the Reds with a mountain to climb.