Liverpool Crash Out of Champions League


Gerrard potentially having his final Champions League night

Gerrard potentially having his final Champions League night

The Reds dropped into the Europa League after a closely fought 1-1 draw with Basel at Anfield, in a match they needed to win to progress.

Speaking after the match, Rodgers claimed Liverpool were not good enough to progress to the knockout stages of the competition, and said “We haven’t been good enough over the course of qualification. There is disappointment, but now we have to fight for the rest of the season.”

Rodgers, whose side won only one of their six group games, added: “We can’t have any excuses.

“We had enough games to try and get enough points but the key one was away to Basel, where we were disappointing and lost.

“If you deserve to go through you get the points.

“We really wanted to qualify but we weren’t good enough.

“But you have to remember where we have come from. We have come a long way in a short time.”

Despite another moment of Gerrard magic, an equalising free-kick that kissed the post as it curled in, Liverpool’s failure to defeat Basel means they drop into the Europa League. Gerrard also faces a difficult challenge to steer his team back into the top four and speculation persists about his future. There is the possibility of qualification through winning the Europa League but it remains a long shot playing like this.

For all Gerrard’s efforts, Liverpool did not deserve to progress, Basel did.  Liverpool lacked pace and cohesion for long periods. Unlike Paulo Sousa’s lively, well-organised side, Liverpool lacked a workable game-plan too. Rodgers’ starting line-up was strange, for a game that was crucial to Liverpool’s season, omitting the creativity of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana and  leaving Rickie Lambert isolated in attack.

Rodgers can bemoan the “awful decision” of Bjorn Kuipers to dismiss Markovic but the Serb was guilty of stupidity. Running across midfield, Markovic was being tracked by Behrang Safari, and twice looked back to check on the him. Markovic brought his right arm back, an action more wafted than swung, and his finger-tips appeared to clip Safari’s face. Lightly. The Basel No 19 milked the minimal contact, clutching his face, even putting in a roll of shame.

However, even though Liverpool had a man sent off, it never looked like they were going to win the encounter, until the final ten minutes, which is poor considering how important the game was to them. The visit to Old Trafford is looking incredibly important at this stage of the season, if they come away with nothing they will fall ten points behind Louis van Gaal’s side. Unless Rodgers can find a plan, in the same way he did last year, Liverpool might be facing another few years without Champions League football

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