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Liverpool 1, Basel 1: First Thoughts

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Liverpool made a magnificent comeback while down a man, but couldn't find a second goal and have been eliminated from the Champions League. Hope is such a jerk.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

liverpool blog fc sbn

Liverpool 1 Gerrard 81'
Basel 1 Frei 25'

  • Liverpool came out in a... less than ideal setup. A defensive line that's probably been Liverpool's worst-performing foursome this season, a very defensive midfield setup (that for some reason started with Jordan Henderson on the left wing), and Rickie Lambert starting for the 984308th time in a row. Outside of a decent opening five or ten minutes, Liverpool quickly went as flat as they've been far too often this season.

  • Basel's opening goal was depressingly predictable. A Glen Johnson giveaway, Lucas Leiva marking the wrong man, the center backs not doing anything useful, and Simon Mignolet getting hung out to dry. You could see it coming almost as soon as the ball left Johnson's boot.

  • In the first half, Liverpool looked just. so. flat. Steven Gerrard was poor. Joe Allen wasn't much better. Henderson and Lucas weren't great. The back line was chaotic. Lambert was exhausted. Raheem Sterling's runs were the only good thing Liverpool had going, but his lack of support meant that his still-developing final ball wasn't enough to get the job done.

  • Brendan Rodgers went for broke right at the start of the second half, pulling Lambert off for the pace of Lazar Markovic, and getting Alberto Moreno's attacking drive on in place of Jose Enrique, who had looked fairly listless in the first half. Liverpool got an immediate kick from the subs, as Basel wasn't set up to deal with their pace, and things opened up a bit more for the home side in the opening stages of the second half.

  • Of course, that didn't last long: Markovic was sent off at the hour mark for slapping Behrang Safari. Lazar was running with the ball and swung his arm back, possibly trying to feel for how close Safari was behind him. The Basel fullback then went down clutching his face, and the Dutch ref in charge of the match brandished a red card at Markovic. While at first the call looked questionable at best, further replays clearly showed Markovic glance over his shoulder before swinging his arm back and flicking his hand at Safari, hitting him near his eyes. It wasn't a strong strike, and Safari certainly exaggerated his reaction, but it was the height of stupidity from Markovic to even think of doing. 

  • STEVEN. EFFING. GERRARD. WHAT A FREE KICK. 

  • With everything on the line, Gashi was given too much space and lashed a shot on goal, but Simon Mignolet made an excellent save to turn it away. 

  • Liverpool pushed and pushed and pushed for a second goal, and you wouldn't know that they were down a man. They just couldn't find a way through, though, and the final whistle came as a punch to the gut. Liverpool are out of the Champions League, and will have to settle for playing in the Europa League knockout rounds. Oof.

liverpool blog fc sbn

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.