Liverpool crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, as the Reds drew 1-1 at home against FC Basel when only a win would do.
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The Swiss side qualified for the knockout stages of the UCL from Group B at Liverpool’s expense as Fabian Frei had given them a first half lead, but the Reds had Lazar Markovic controversially sent off in the second half in a crucial moment of the game.
Steven Gerrard bent in a free kick for the 10-men of Liverpool with 10 minutes to go but despite a late rally it wasn’t enough. Liverpool are out of the Champions League and will now move down to the Europa League. Huge disappointment for the Reds.
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The home side got off to a terrible start as Basel took the lead after 25 minutes through Frei. Basel’s Swiss attacker made some space for himself then popped the ball into Luca Zuffi who laid it back to Frei, who then hammered home into the bottom corner. 1-0 to Basel.
Rather than spur Liverpool on, the hosts failed to get going after the opener and Basel looked more likely to double their lead as the half time whistle blew. At half time Rodgers made a double substitution as Markovic and Alberto Moreno replaced Rickie Lambert and Jose Enrique.
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However Markovic lasted just over 15 minutes as he was a shown a straight red card by referee Bjorn Kuipers for flailing his arm at Behrang Safari. The Basel player went down like he had been shot but it was the slightest flick from Markovic which Kuipers deemed as a straight-red. Liverpool were up against it.
Despite being down to 10-men, Gerrard made a incisive run through Basel’s defense and looked to be caught by goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik in front of the Kop but the referee wasn’t having any of it. With just less than 10 minutes to go Gerrard was not to be denied as his curling free kick clipped the post and went in to make it 1-1. Game on, as a grandstand finish was set up at Anfield with Liverpool needing one more goal to advance.
Late on Liverpool threw everything at Basel and a cross deflected off a defender and almost gave the Reds the goal they desperately craved. But it wasn’t to be as the five-time winners of the European Cup crashed out at the group stage.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Enrique (Moreno, 45′), Lovren, Skrtel, Lucas (Coutinho, 74′), Allen, Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Lambert (Markovic, 45′)
Goal: Gerrard (81′)
Basel: Vaclik, Xhaka, Schar, Suchy, Safari, Elneny (Diaz, 84′), Frei, Zuffi (Samuel, 88′), Gonzalez, Streller (Embolo, 74′), Gashi.
Goal: Frei (25′)