Champions League: Juventus qualify, Liverpool crash out

Champions League: Juventus qualify, Liverpool crash out

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 11:37 pm


Contrasting mood: Liverpool players, left, rue failure to qualify, Basel players, right, rejoice

Contrasting mood: Liverpool players, left, rue failure to qualify, Basel players, right, rejoice

Juventus secured their ticket for the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in two years after dominating a listless Atletico Madrid in an entertaining scoreless draw in Turin on Tuesday.

While the Spaniards already qualified thanks to the four-match winning run that followed their opening day defeat to Olympiakos, Juventus required just a point to qualify for the knockout phase.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri had underlined his side’s intention to go for a win with a two-goal margin that would allow the Turin giants to snatch top spot from Diego Simeone’s reigning Spanish champions.

But despite dominating in all departments, the Italians failed to convert chances into goals.

The draw means Atletico finish top of Group A on 13 points, with Juventus second on 10 and Olympiakos, who beat Malmo 4-2, finishing third on nine to drop into the Europa League.

In England, Steven Gerrard scored in vain as Basel ended Liverpool’s Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Tuesday that consigned his side to the Europa League.

Gerrard’s exquisite late free-kick cancelled out Fabian Frei’s 25th-minute opener, but with Liverpool reduced to 10 men by the dismissal of substitute Lazar Markovic, Paulo Sousa’s Basel held on for a point that took them into the last 16 alongside Group B winners Real Madrid.

It was yet another English scalp for Basel, who knocked Liverpool out of the tournament in 2002, eliminated Manchester United in 2011, put Tottenham Hotspur out of the Europa League two seasons ago, and beat Chelsea twice in the Champions League last year.

The match fell 10 years and a day after Gerrard had inspired Liverpool to a stirring 3-1 win over Olympiakos at the same stage of the competition, en route to an unforgettable comeback against AC Milan in the final.

But his fine 81st-minute strike was not enough to rescue his team on this occasion as Liverpool’s return to Europe’s elite competition after a five-year absence dissolved in the Anfield drizzle.

“I don’t think we deserved better,” Gerrard told ITV Sport.

“We have not gone out because of this performance. We weren’t good enough away to Basel (losing 1-0) and we let in a silly goal away to Ludogorets.

“You qualify over six games and we have not been good enough.”

Brendan Rodgers must now rouse his side for a trip to old enemies Manchester United on Sunday, but the disappointment of a campaign in which his side’s only win came against Bulgarian newcomers Ludogorets Razgrad will take some time to digest.


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