After The Match 


Debrecen-Liverpool 0-1 (0-1)          24.11.09                      CL
Goals: Ngog (4)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Aurelio, Kuyt, Gerrard, Ngog
Subs: Benayoun (Ngog 77), Dossena (Aurelio 88),
Aquilani (Gerrard 90)
Not used: Cavalieri, Spearing, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel
Yellow: Szelesi (23)
Red: None
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Attendance: 15,000
Shots on target: 2-6
Shots off target: 2-8
Blocked shots: 2-4
Fouls conceded: 23-17
Corners: 3-12
Offsides: 3-2
Possession: 28.7-71.3
Yellow: 1-0

HEADLINES "Tonight's performance was encouraging..."
Steven Gerrard
   2511: Anfield legend: He's very fortunate
          that he's managing Liverpool

2511: Aurelio: Liverpool players responsible
          for Champions League exit

2511: Liverpool FC fans are backing
          Rafael Benitez but will owners?

2511: Purslow: Benitez's job is safe
2411: Rafa: We must hold heads high
2411: Gerrard: Let's go and win Europa League
2411: Reds miracle fails to materialise

Anfield legend: He's very fortunate
that he's managing Liverpool

By Ben Moss -

Liverpool legend Graeme Souness believes Rafa Benitez is fortunate to still be the manager at Anfield given the club’s lacklustre start to the season.

Following the club’s elimination from the Champions League and their poor start to the Premier League season, Souness suggests the Spaniard is living off former glories and raised concerns about the long-term prospects of the club should they fail to finish in the top four this season.

Souness told Sky Sports: “If you ask me about any managers, particularly Liverpool managers because I know how difficult that job is, I'm not going to tell you 'this one should go or that one should stay', but I think he's very fortunate that he's managing Liverpool,”

“At Liverpool you get more of a chance than any of the other big clubs out there. He's very lucky that he won that European Cup so early on in his reign.

“I think that's bought him a lot of time, and there's still a great deal of affection out there for him with the people in Liverpool.”

“But if they lose to Everton on Sunday and I think that would be another hard blow for the red side of Liverpool to take.”

“It's a hard business today managing at the highest level, but again I'm trying to look beyond personnel. I worked for them for a long, long time and some of the best days of my footballing career were at Liverpool, and I worry about the bigger picture.”

“I'm not worrying about the present players, the present management, the present owners. They're only custodians.”

“When you own a big football club, a club that's steeped in tradition, you're there to look after it and hopefully pass it on in better nick than when you got it.”

“I don't think those two Americans will be doing that this time around. I think Liverpool's crying out for somebody from the Middle East to come with a big fat cheque that allows them to take care of the debt and allows them to move forward.”

“As long as they've got that debt hanging round their neck they're going nowhere. They are going nowhere fast, and the big danger for me is that they drop out of the Champions League places this season now and they can no longer attract the best players.”

“All of a sudden they're having to unload some of their biggest assets.”

“If they're not in the Champions League next year I think that will cause Liverpool major problems.”

“I would suggest that if that is the case then anything could happen in terms of people leaving Liverpool.”

“And the biggest asset they've have is Torres.”

“If you're not in the Champions League you're not going to attract the best players.”

Aurelio: Liverpool players responsible
for Champions League exit

By Ian Ferris -

Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio maintains Liverpool's stars must shoulder the blame for the club's disappointing exit from the Champions League.

Liverpool drop into the Europa League by finishing third in Group E.

Aurelio said: "The players still have confidence and we know that it is only us who can change our situation by working hard to improve.

"We know we can do better, certainly than we are doing at the moment.

"The team are now intent on winning at Everton on Sunday and starting to get more points right to the end of the season. Then we will see what position we are in, and what we are able to fight for.

"It is a big game next against Everton and a big opportunity to improve and regain the strength we need for a long season ahead."

Aurelio added: "It is difficult to explain how we feel. Being Liverpool, you expect to go much further in the competition than we have done this season.

"But now we cannot allow ourselves to dwell on what has happened, we must concentrate on the future to fight for a different title, the Europa League.

"We also have the challenge to do things better in the Premier League as well.

"It is difficult to know where this campaign has gone wrong, but against Lyon we lost goals in the last minutes of both games and that has made the difference.

"Liverpool used to be more solid in defence, and we have only scored four goals in five games in the group matches, so we have to improve in all areas.

"We have been missing a lot of players through injury problems, so we have to think that things can only improve in that situation.

"It is a big disappointment to be out of the Champions League, but we have to win a trophy. A big team like Liverpool must accept that.

"The Europa League is an opportunity to win a trophy and that's how we will go into this competition thinking. At Liverpool, every competition is important, we want to win trophies.

"We will have a great chance to get a trophy and we'll go for it, but there is still a long way go until May and we have to improve.

"In the Premier League we know we have to do better and we have a massive game at the weekend at Everton.

"It's the derby and we will try to do things properly and get the three points."

Liverpool FC fans are backing
Rafael Benitez but will owners?

Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

Much has been made about Liverpool’s failure to land a league title in 20 years now.

And rightly so. We all know why.

But dropping out of the European Cup before the knockout stages is bitterly disappointing and very painful too for everyone associated with Liverpool FC.

Because it is in Europe’s upper echelons where Liverpool Football Club belongs.

So being dumped out of a Champions League group this season which any Liverpool side should ordinarily have been able to conquer, is not good enough.

But my thoughts last night as our Champions League hopes disappeared despite the 1-0 victory over Debrecen went out to those magnificent Liverpool fans who stood in the rain in Hungary at the end on a cold November night singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

They weren’t booing, screaming at players or calling for the manager’s head.


They stuck with the team and shared the deep disappointment, singing their hearts out to try and lift everyone’s spirits.

Liverpool supporters are magnificent and unique.

And the reason why Rafael Benitez and everyone at Anfield knows they deserve far better than they’re suddenly getting this season.

Certainly the fans will give the manger time to sort it out.

Question is, will the owners, who hardly ever turn up to watch a game, either sell up or somehow give him the money he needs to ensure this stuttering and deeply frustrating season is not repeated.

I doubt it.

But for the sake of those truly wonderful and loyal Liverpool fans who stick with their team through thick and thin, I hope I’m wrong.

Purslow: Benitez's job is safe

Sky Sports

Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow has told Rafa Benitez that his job is safe despite the elimination from the UEFA Champions League.

The Reds won 1-0 at Debrecen on Tuesday, but Fiorentina succeeded against Lyon in Florence to join the French side in progressing from Group E to the last 16.

Liverpool will therefore take an on and off-field hit as a result of slipping into the Europa League, while a place in next season's Champions League is far from certain amidst domestic struggles.

But Benitez is not facing the sack, according to Purslow, with late goals in a defeat and draw to Lyon earlier in the competition meaning Liverpool were already facing a tough task to qualify prior to events in Budapest.

Purslow told Sky Sports 2: "You can never predict last-minute goals, which have cost us dear in the Champions League. That's no basis to make managerial decisions.

"We don't run our business in that respect. I'm on the record as saying Rafa's signed a new five-year contract, he's four months into that contract so to discuss that is not appropriate."

Purslow has also offered financial reassurances by insisting that Liverpool co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have budgeted for failure in the Champions League.

Asked about the monetary impact, he said: "It's limited actually. Assuming we have a reasonable run in the Europa League then we are financially neutral for this year."

Rafa: We must hold heads high

By Jimmy Rice in Budapest - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool can still enjoy a successful season in 2009-10 - but warned his players not to let their Champions League exit affect performances over the coming weeks.

The Reds did all they could by beating Debrecen 1-0 thanks to a David Ngog strike - but Fiorentina's victory over Lyon by the same scoreline meant we crashed out at the group stage for the first time under Benitez.

The boss admitted he was disappointed for the fans but urged everyone to stay positive ahead of a crucial Merseyside derby at the weekend.

Everton are one of the sides Liverpool could meet in the Europa League - and memories of a glorious campaign in 2001 means Steven Gerrard and co will be going all out to reach the final in Hamburg.

Benitez said: "You have to be disappointed. We did our job here but we cannot change things. If you analyse the games, two late goals against Lyon were a massive difference.

"You have the first half against Fiorentina and the two late goals but that's football and sometimes you can't control things. We had chances in all of the games - we could have won all of them.

"We have been so good in the last few years that people think it's easy to progress. You can see every year we've qualified and everyone expects us to be in the final.

"But the fans realise the team worked so hard and you can't expect more. We made two mistakes late against Lyon but the fans have some experience in Europe.

"We have to be positive, we have a massive game on Sunday and we have to make sure we are ready.

"I like to win every game and be as high as possible in all the competitions but I think more about the players, the staff and the fans and I'm disappointed for everyone.

"To win is always the target but when you are doing as well as you can you just have to think about the next target. We cannot win the Champions League, we know that. A lot of teams don't play in the Champions League. So we have to think about Everton and then the Europa League.

"The players know it's been a bad run of games but to win here and to show we can create a lot of chances is positive."

Asked if he and his team were keeping abreast of events in Italy during the Debrecen game, Benitez added: "At half-time we knew (it was 1-0) and we were waiting afterwards for news but the players didn't know."

Gerrard: Let's go and
win Europa League

By James Carroll - LFC Official Website

Steven Gerrard reflected on Liverpool's European heartbreak and declared: 'Now let's go and win the Europa League.'

A fourth minute strike from David Ngog gave the Reds a 1-0 victory over Debrecen in Budapest - but it wasn't enough to save their Champions League status as Fiorentina beat Lyon in Italy.

While Gerrard accepts it is a blow to have bowed out of the tournament at the group stage, the captain is confident the season can still end in success for Rafael Benitez's side.

"The disappointing thing was having to rely on other teams going into tonight," said Gerrard.

"We've played fantastically well tonight and deserved the three points, so it's disappointing that we won't progress in the Champions League.

"You get what you deserve in this competition and the two late goals we conceded against Lyon have been crucial. But it's gone now - it's in the past and we've got to move on.

"We're in the Europa League and we'll go and try to win it.

"Tonight's performance was encouraging and we can build on that. We've got a lot of players coming back from injury so hopefully it's onwards and upwards from here."

The results mean Liverpool will drop down into the Europa League - a competition the Reds last won on a memorable night in Dortmund in 2001.

Asked if the players would find it difficult to pick themselves up to play in the tournament, Gerrard replied: "Of course because the main prize has gone.

"When you start the season, you want to stay in the Champions League as long as possible, so to be playing in the Europa League is disappointing.

"But we have to accept that, move on and go and try and win it.

"The only consolation from losing out on the Champions League is to go and win the one that comes second."

Gerrard admits Liverpool's primary short-term focus will be attempting to secure a top four finish this campaign and a return to the Champions League in 2010-11.

"It's important we finish in the top four, that goes without saying," he added.

"For financial reasons, but also from a personal point of view it is important for players to play in the Champions League because it's the best level.

"It's important we go to Everton on Sunday, try to get the three points and get ourselves back in the top four as soon as possible.

"Now that we've got the majority of the squad back fit, I'm very confident we can turn things around and go on a long run of winning games.

"Hopefully Torres is not too far away and then we'll have everyone back fit and go from there."

Reds miracle fails to materialise

By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports

The soul searching taking place at Liverpool this season will intensify after the five-time kings of Europe crashed out of the UEFA Champions League group stages despite winning 1-0 at Debrecen.

Rafa Benitez's Reds travelled to Hungary with their boss admitting his side needed a miracle to reach the last 16, and the Spaniard's worst fears were confirmed as Fiorentina defeated Lyon in Florence to qualify at the expense of his team.

The three points for the Italians in Tuesday's other match in Group E rendered events in Budapest completely irrelevant as a first-half goal from French striker David Ngog will now take a back seat to plans for the Europa League.

Ngog handed Liverpool the perfect start after just four minutes, applying a glancing touch to Jamie Carragher's header across goal from a Fabio Aurelio cross, but he and his team-mates were left to rue the late draw in Lyon at the beginning of November.

Benitez will take solace in ending a winless run that stretches back to the Premier League success over Manchester United in October but he will also know that a failure to reach the knockout stages for the first time in his tenure will only increase tension in a wretched season.

The cost is little more than a couple of million pounds this season for Liverpool, who continually stress that they never budget for anything but the group stages.

But it is a severe blow to the esteem of a true European power who have suffered a fall from grace few would have predicted when the competition started.

The true damage comes next season if they fail to finish in the Premier League's top four, something they are far from certain of. That would see them lose a cool £10m immediately and put further question marks over the financial direction the club is facing.

Liverpool had Glen Johnson and Aurelio back from injury, otherwise it was the same side that drew with Manchester City on Saturday - with Ryan Babel out with an ankle injury and Yossi Benayoun on the bench, suggesting that his hamstring injury is still not completely healed.

Debrecen made eight changes from the side that beat Honved in the Hungarian league at the weekend, and included seven of the side that lost 1-0 in the opening group match back in August at Anfield.

And Liverpool could not have asked for a better start to settle any nerves as they went ahead after just four minutes with the Hungarians having barely touched the ball.

Aurelio's cross from the right curled to the far post for Carragher to head back across goal, where Ngog guided the ball with the outside of his right foot in off the keeper and the far post.

Twice Dirk Kuyt narrowly failed to get on the end of close-range crosses as Liverpool sought a second.

But they began to get sloppy, giving the ball away with over-ambitious passes which wasted the impressive movement that had Debrecen struggling.

Debrecen also gave away a lot of early free-kicks as they struggled to contain Liverpool, and Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers lost patience and booked Zoltan Szelesi for a foul on Steven Gerrard.

Vukasin Poleksic twice saved well from Ngog, with Liverpool having 70 per cent of the possession.

But news of a Fiorentina goal against Lyon was enough to silence the travelling support and change the mood.

Debrecen's first opportunity soon followed with Gergely Rudolf heading wide when unmarked in the area. Liverpool needed, at least, to settle the issue with a second goal in this match as Debrecen continued to grow in confidence.

Poleksic made another fine save to turn away a close-range Gerrard effort after he was set up by Johnson.

Debrecen then sent on striker Adamo Coulibaly in place of Peter Szakaly. The big Frenchman had caused Liverpool plenty of problems earlier in the season.

Now nerves were getting to the Liverpool men as they toiled to clinch the match.

Emiliano Insua lost possession to Rudolf on the edge of the box, regaining the ball as the forward threw himself down in the box.

Agger's run set up a chance for Gerrard but he drove high over from the edge of the box.

Debrecen players were going down at every opportunity now, drawing howls of anger from the home fans.

Benayoun came on for Ngog after 77 minutes, with Debrecen replacing Marcell Fodor with Tibor Dombi a minute later.

Carragher headed an Aurelio corner just wide but the second goal remained elusive for Liverpool.

Kuyt was now the central striker with Benayoun on the right, but it was Liverpool on the defensive as Rudolf forced Jose Reina into a save from a fierce angled drive.

Liverpool sent on Andrea Dossena for Aurelio with a couple of minutes left, Alberto Aquilani replacing Gerrard in injury time.

There was still time for Coulibaly to have a shot kicked clear by Reina as Liverpool clung onto their lead.

backbutton.gif (1697 bytes)

Thor Zakariassen ©