Rafael Benitez's side have made patchy progress to the last 16, but they have followed a similar path in the past and still navigated their way through to the final stages of the tournament.
Gerrard was restored to Liverpool's line-up after missing England's win in Germany and a goalless draw with Fulham at Anfield with a groin injury.
Dirk Kuyt had an opportunity to give Liverpool the lead after 21 minutes when Fernando Torres provided a perfect cross, but his header was saved at the second attempt by keeper Steve Mandanda.
It was only a temporary reprieve for Marseille, with Gerrard putting Liverpool in front two minutes later. He stole in unmarked on the end of Alonso's ball to the far post to head powerfully beyond the helpless Mandanda.
Marseille were stringing some impressive passing moves together without delivering an end product, but they gave Liverpool a scare after 35 minutes when Reina touched Taiwo's long-range shot on to the post.
Ronaldo Zubar then headed the resulting corner wastefully wide when he was left unchallenged at the far post.
Marseille more than matched Liverpool in the second half, with the gifted Ben Arfa a real threat.
He fired a dangerous cross just beyond Benoit Cheyrou then forced Reina into a stunning finger-tip save from an angled free-kick.
Liverpool were desperately out of sorts and Mamadou Niang wasted an opportunity with 10 minutes left, heading off target when well placed.
But Liverpool's defence, superbly marshalled once more by Jamie Carragher, held out and can now concentrate on topping the group and avoiding some potentially hazardous opposition in the last 16.
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