Liverpool Come Up Short, Knocked out of Champions League


Ask any fan of Liverpool Football Club under the age of 30 what the highlight of their fandom is and without hesitation 99% of fans would talk about Istanbul, the Champions League final from 10 years ago.

But Liverpool would have never made it that far was it not for an 86th minute goal by Steven Gerrard in the final match of the group stage played on December 8, 2004, almost exactly 10 years ago to the day.

Tuesday Liverpool found themselves in a similar situation to the one they were in back in 2004. The Reds had to win against the Swiss club FC Basel to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament.

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Liverpool looked worse than normal (which is saying a lot considering their form this season) in the first half and conceded a goal from a shot outside the box by Fabian Frei in the 25th minute. Liverpool would now need to score twice in the second half if they hoped to advance from the group along with Real Madrid.

The Reds looked better as the second period began, but within 15 minutes of being substituted, Lazar Markovic was given a direct red card for an obvious swing of his hand towards a Basel defender. Replays showed that it may have been a weak red card, but it was immature by Markovic to even tempt the referee in such an important match.

With only 10 men, Liverpool not only faced the uphill climb of scoring two goals, but also risking getting caught on a counter attack while sending their depleted squad into Basel’s side of the pitch.

For the first 80 minutes of the match, Liverpool had few legitimate chances to score and only Raheem Sterling looked capable of attacking the defense and creating a chance for the home side.

In the 80th minute, Sterling created yet another chance when he was fouled just outside the box giving Liverpool a free kick with 10 minutes remaining.

And what a free kick it was. Steven Gerrard placed the ball in the absolute upper most corner of the left side of the net where Basel keeper Tomás Vaclik had no hope of reaching it. It was superb. One of the most perfect free kicks I can remember seeing.

Liverpool was level 1-1. Was the miracle from 10 years ago about to be repeated? 

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  • This was the 100th goal scored by Steven Gerrard at Anfield and although I can’t say I have seen all 100, it’s hard to imagine many being more beautiful that this one.

    With just under 10 minutes remaining, the Reds were left to throw the kitchen sink at Basel in hopes of finding one more goal. But that second goal never came. Liverpool got close, never closer than a Jordan Henderson header in the 86th minute which produced an awkward save for Vaclik, but never found the finishing touch.

    With only five points from the six group stage matches, Liverpool finishes third in their group and will be relegated to the Europa League knockout stage.

    It’s been 10 years since Liverpool defeated AC Milan and were the Champions of Europe. They have not won a top division title in England since 1990. The club and their fans have had several difficult seasons over the past 25 years, but it’s hard to believe any season has been more frustrating that this current campaign.

    It has been a season filled with poor performances and underachieving. With so many expectations and very few positive results, this will not be a season fans look back on and remember with the fondness. The dreams of repeating the miracle of Istanbul have been put on hold once again.

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