FT: Liverpool v Basel

Date published: Thursday 1st January 1970 12:00

It’s all over and Liverpool are out of the Champions League. They threw everything at Basel in the final 10 minutes but couldn’t get the goal that would have lifted them above the Swiss side in Group B. It was a great free-kick from Gerrard to cancel out Frei’s opener and make it 1-1 but Basel just about held on and Liverpool will now play in the Europa League.
CLOSE! What an effort from Henderson! He drills in a shot from 25 yards that looks to be heading towards the corner until the keeper dives to keep it out. Time nearly up.
CLOSE! Basel almost grab a second as a cross flashes across the box just in front of Gashi. Straight up the other end Sterling crosses for Skrtel at the near post but he can’t divert his shot on target.
Four minutes of added time, still 1-1. Liverpool need a goal to go through to the last 16.
Corner for Liverpool isn’t cleared properly and Henderson’s shot is blocked behind for another corner. Coutinho takes and it falls to Gerrard on the edge of the box…but he shoots well over.
CLOSE! A frantic finish at Anfield as Gerrard threads a great ball through for Sterling but Schar is brave and goes sliding in to clear while clattering into his goalkeeper.
Another change for Basel as Zuffi is replaced by Champions League winner Walter Samuel.
OFF THE LINE! So close for Liverpool as a cross into the box towards Henderson deflects off two defenders and looks to be heading over the line. But the keeper manages to just get down and stop it on the line.
Wasteful from Xhaka as he gets away from Sterling in the box but fires over the bar.
The game really is open now as Zuffi shows good feet to dodge a tackle and then shoots on target, but Mignolet palms it away pretty comfortably. Basel now taking their time over the throw.
Change for Basel as Diaz comes on for El-Nenny.
Now Basel have a free-kick after Lovren slides in for a tackle and is perhaps fortunate not to be shown a second yellow. Not a great tackle but the referee decides a free-kick is enough punishment.
Gerrard gives Liverpool a lifeline with a superb free-kick! He curls it over the wall and it bounces off the post and into the back of the net. Brilliant from the skipper, Liverpool just need another in the final 10 minutes and they will be through.
Now Schar goes into the book for bringing down Sterling on the edge of the box. Gerrard lines it up…
Lovren just about avoids a booking, or worse, himself as he gets to the ball narrowly ahead of Embolo. The Basel fans making themselves heard in Anfield as their closes in on qualification with their 1-0 lead.
One of the clearest yellow cards you will see as Moreno body checks Gonzalez after he pushed the ball past him down the wing.
Decent cross from Moreno from the left but Vaclik does well to claim it above his head.
Changes for both sides as Lucas comes off for Countinho and Basel skipper Streller is replaced by 17-year-old Breel Embolo.
Good decision this time by Bjorn Kuipers as he turns down Liverpool’s loud appeals for a penalty. Good ball through from Sterling to Gerrard but Vaclik comes sliding out and just gets to the ball before he takes out the Liverpool skipper.
Streller tries a first-time shot from the edge of the box but it’s blocked by a defender.
Chris Green on the dismissal: ‘I don’t think Markovic’s conduct warranted a red card, as his hand didn’t make full contact with the opposition player.’
CLOSE! Not too many options in front of Skrtel so he shoots from about 30 yards out. It’s close as well as it just sails over the top corner, not a bad effort from the defender.
Seeing replays of that ‘challenge’ from Markovic it had to be said that it was silly from him to even flick his arm out towards Safari as he really didn’t need to. Still there was minimal contact and it was a soft sending off by Bjorn Kuipers.
That red card has definitely riled Liverpool and now Lovren goes into the book for a challenge on Xhaka. Again not much in the tackle really as Xhaka just looked like he slipped.
Even more of a mountain to climb now for Liverpool, especially as Markovic had looked their liveliest player since coming on at half-time.
Brendan Rodgers has his head in his hands and I’m not surprised, that is a very harsh red card. Markovic is running with the ball on halfway and pushes his arm out to try to keep away Safari, who goes down very theatrically as Markovic’s hand catches him in the face. In truth though there was very little contact at all there and Markovic is stunned by the decision.
CLOSE! Almost 2-0 as Xhaka shoots narrowly wide. He makes the chance himself as he runs with the ball from midway through the Liverpool half up to the box, but he drags his shot just wide of the post.
Better from Liverpool as Markovic runs at the defence and gets it to Moreno on the edge of the area. The defender’s shot is blocked and Markovic’s follow-up effort is also deflected away but that’s an improvement for the hosts.
Still raining heavily at Anfield as Sterling switches wings out to the right and puts a dangerous ball into the box that is only just cut out by Frei.
The half-time break seems to have re-invigorated the crowd and they are making plenty of noise. Still Basel looking dangerous on the break though as the game becomes more open.
Cross from Moreno from the left into a good area in the box but no Lambert anymore so nobody is there.
Still Liverpool not looking overly confident at the back as Mignolet has to clear under pressure. Almost a chance for the hosts though as Markovic slides a ball down the wing for Johnson to chase, but he can only just keep it in and Basel clear.
Booking for Lucas for a late tackle on El-Nenny, not too many complaints from the Brazilian.
Immediate impact from Markovic as he takes on a defender, prods the ball past him and then gets in a cross from the byline, but it’s cleared by a Basel head.
SECOND HALF: The visitors get the second half underway..
Double change for Liverpool at the break as Lambert and Enrique are replaced by Markovic and Moreno.
That’s the end of the first half and the good news for Liverpool is that surely the second half can’t be much worse. They have created very little in the final third and have been second best to Basel, who lead through that strike from Frei but could be further ahead.
CLOSE! Probably Liverpool’s best chance of the half as Henderson puts a good pass through for Johnson. He has Lambert in the middle of the box but his cross his too high for the striker and sails out of play. Should have just rolled that into the area.
Basel have the ball in the net but the flag is up for offside. It was a good pass through the defence for Gashi and a neat finish but he was a few yards offside.
Another wasteful pass from Liverpool drifts out for a Basel goal kick. The rain is now starting to fall heavily at Anfield.
Again Basel break at pace and cause the Liverpool defence more problems. Gonzalez gets clear down the left and his cross into the six-yard box is only half cleared to the edge of the area by Lovren. Schar, the Basel centre-back, takes it on first time and shoots at goal but it’s blocked by two defenders.
Sterling has looked Liverpool’s liveliest player so far but this time his pass for Henderson is overhit and goes out of play.
Liverpool really have been second best so far and as a consequence the atmosphere is a bit more subdued than it first was. The hosts really need something to spark the crowd back into life. They still trail 1-0.
CHANCE! The Liverpool defence is at sixes and sevens and Basel should be 2-0 up. The hosts don’t clear a corner properly and it goes out to the left wing, where it is curled back into the box for Streller. He is unmarked at the back post but for some reason decides to try to volley it awkwardly rather than head it and the ball flies wide.
CLOSE! Almost a second for Basel as the Liverpool defence is stretched again and a pass is threaded through for Gonzalez. He looks to have just Mignolet to beat, but Enrique is just fast enough to knock the ball away from Gonzalez and behind.
The home side now have to respond to that Frei strike and they almost do as Sterling cuts in from the right and manages to get a low shot away, but Vaclik gets down to save it relatively comfortably.
Basel take the lead and you can’t say it hadn’t been coming. They pass the ball around neatly in the final third before Frei plays it into Zuffi and gets it back with a good lay-off. Frei then drills a shot across Mignolet and into the far corner. Excellent finish from Frei and Liverpool now have to score at least two.
Danger for Liverpool as Basel pump a couple of crosses into the box that the hosts don’t clear convincingly. From one of them the ball drops to Streller about eight yards out, but his shot is blocked from close range.
Good opportunity is passed up by Sterling as a loose touch from a Basel defender lets the winger in on the right of the box. Instead of shooting though he tries to pass it back for Gerrard, but his pass is underhit and Basel clear. Sterling should have gone for goal there, even if Gerrard was in a better position.
Wasteful from Frei as he can’t wrap his foot around a cross and hits the ball way over the bar. Basel definitely looking a threat when they come forward though.
Liverpool threaten through Sterling, who puts in a dangerous cross from the right after a pass out to him from Johnson. But a Basel defender is there to clear the ball before it gets into the heart of the box.
CHANCE! First real opening of the match falls to Basel. Gashi links up with Zuffi and gets the return ball played through for him. He is in a good position just off the shoulder of the last man but his shot from the edge of the box is off target. Would have expected him to test the keeper from there.
Decent cross from the right by Xhaka but it’s too close to the keeper and Mignolet claims. Big night for the Belgian.
Liverpool win the first corner of the match but it comes to nothing as Vaclik comes out to claim the high ball.
Liverpool still look a little shaky when the ball gets near their back four as a Basel player is allowed to go up unchallenged for a header. Fortunately for the hosts it was near the touchline and not in the box.
Patience could be the key for Liverpool tonight but they have to feed off the energy of the crowd as well. Basel also have a decent following in Anfield, around 2,000 travelling fans making plenty of noise.
Poor delivery from Gerrard doesn’t even beat the first man. Basel then clear and break, but they are pulled up for a foul on the edge of the Liverpool box.
Bright start to the game as Henderson can’t get on top of a bouncing ball and smashes it into the stands. Now a free-kick to Liverpool on the right touchline…
First shot of the night is by Gerrard. Good run from Sterling down the right and he cuts inside and feeds his skipper but Gerrard’s shot is straight into the arms of Vaclik.
Nervy start from Liverpool as Lovren passes the ball across his own box to Skrtel and he just boots it up into the air. Thankfully no danger for the Reds though.
KICK-OFF: Liverpool get the game underway…
Cracking atmosphere at Anfield as You’ll Never Walk Alone fills the ground and the flags fly, almost ready to go…
Actually the final say goes to Brendan Rodgers, who says: ‘The players are ready for it. I said to them beforehand that they have earned the right to be here…We are going to enjoy it and look to get the result. The key is ensuring we keep our temperament, we want to press the game well and hard but we need patience as well.’
The final say before kick-off goes to Thomas Locker: ‘What on earth is going on at LFC? Buy two full backs in the summer then play one at a time or neither, play four holding midfielders on a night where we NEED to score goals, play a striker who’s tiring through weekend-midweek-weekend matches and then NOT have a striker on the bench? Why not give Borini a chance? Why not play 2 upfront with Sterling sat just behind? Poor choice for a must win match.’
If Liverpool are to progress they will have to beat Basel for the first time in Europe, their current record against them is drawn two and lost one. But, they have never been beaten by a Swiss side at Anfield (W3 D2) and have won six of their 11 matches against Swiss opposition…
Neil Paterson still reckons the Reds will have enough: ‘Liverpool may struggle with one recognised striker and no back up striker on the bench. Sterling and Gerrard to carry them through. 2-1 Liverpool YNWA.’
Ian Whitehouse says ‘it’s a disgrace, trying to go for a win and the line up is about as creative as cheese and biscuits! #YNWA’ while Matty Warrington asks ‘for a must win game why has Rodgers gone for more of a defensive team?? Sterling the only threat here..going for a very close 2-1 YNWA.’
Fair to say not many of you are overly pleased with the starting line-up….
What a night it could be for Liverpool fan Rickie Lambert. When Gerrard was sending Anfield into raptures with that dramatic late strike against Olympiacos a decade ago, Lambert was plying his trade at Stockport County in League One. He’s now Liverpool’s only recognised striker on a night when they must score to have any chance of progressing. Can he deliver as Gerrard did back in 2004?
Mike Bell from Canterbury says: ‘Glad to see Stevie in an attacking role, can’t see Lucas, Henderson or Allen starting more advanced. Would definitely drop Allen though for Coutinho or Lallana; we NEED creativity!’
Matthew Hodgkinson is hopeful of a positive result: ‘Not overly thrilled with the starting XI but hopefully we’ll be strong enough to progress. Going for a 2-1 Liverpool win. Streller for FC Basel and Lambert and Gerrard for Liverpool YNWA!!!!’
Liverpool are 4/5 with Sky Bet to win tonight while 3-1 – the same score the Reds beat Olympiacos by a decade ago – can be backed at 16/1. Steven Gerrard to score at any time is 7/4 while Basel are 7/2 to win and the draw is 14/5.
Liverpool fans, what do you make of the starting line-up tonight? Think there will be enough goals in there to see your team progress? Or is it not attacking enough from Rodgers? As always your predictions/opinions/reactions are always welcome, just drop me an email at james.walker-roberts@bskyb.com and I will post the best throughout the game.
Basel starting XI: Vaclik, Xhaka, Schar, Suchy, Safari, Elneny, Frei, Zuffi, Gonzalez, Streller, Gashi. Subs: Vailati, Degen, Samuel, Delgado, Diaz, Hamoudi, Embolo.
Four changes for Liverpool as Jose Enrique, Dejan Lovren, Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard all start. Kolo Toure misses out through injury while Alberto Moreno drops to the bench and again there is no recognised striker amongst the subs.
Liverpool starting XI: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Allen, Lambert. Subs: Jones, Sakho, Moreno, Can, Lallana, Coutinho, Markovic.
Good evening and welcome to our live and interactive text coverage of Liverpool’s must-win Champions League clash with Basel at Anfield. Graeme Souness says nights like this are what European football is all about, and it’s hard to argue with him. There simply is no margin for error for Liverpool: lose or draw and they are out, win and they will make it through to the last 16. Everybody strapped in? It could be a rollercoaster ride. Team news coming up shortly ahead of kick-off at 7.45pm.

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