A memorable Steven Gerrard strike could not prevent Liverpool from being eliminated from the Champions League as Basel went through on Tuesday, while Juventus and Monaco also advanced to the last 16. Liverpool are enduring a deeply disappointing season but the Anfield club knew that a win at home to Basel would take them through from Group B into the knock-out stage for the first time since 2009.
However, Basel, convincing winners when the sides met in Switzerland two months ago, needed only a point and a pinpoint strike by Fabian Frei in the 25th minute set them on their way.
An already enormous task for Liverpool appeared impossible when Lazar Markvoic was harshly sent off for a flailing arm in the direction of Behrang Safari, and although Gerrard drew them level nine minutes from time with a beautifully-flighted free-kick, the Premier League side could not find a winner.
“The expectation was to get through the group. We haven’t done that because we haven’t been good enough, but we’ll learn from that,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, whose side must now settle for the consolation of a place in the Europa League, told Sky Sports.
In contrast, Basel coach Paulo Sousa said: “We are working in this direction to achieve important things like we achieved today, which gives us the opportunity to challenge other fantastic teams.”
Italian champions Juventus, knocked out at the group stage 12 months ago, are through from Group A after a 0-0 draw at home to last season’s beaten finalists Atletico Madrid, who progress as group winners.