|The Europa League beckons for Liverpool [GALLO/GETTY]|
Five-times European winners Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League despite a 1-0 victory over Debrecen in the Hungarian capital.
Although David Ngog scored a fourth-minute goal for the English Premier League side, Liverpool were eliminated after Fiorentina defeated Lyon in the other group game.
Barcelona revived their chances of holding onto the Champions League title with a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan while Fiorentina and Arsenal advanced to the last 16.
Barcelona raised their game to comfortably beat the Italian champions with goals by Gerard Pique and Pedro Rodriguez at Camp Nou and climb to the top of the Group F standings.
Liverpool got off to a flying start with some assistance from fallible defending when David Ngog poked in Jamie Carragher’s header from a corner.
Debrecen had their best chance 10 minutes from time but Gergely Rudolf’s sharp shot from a narrow angle was parried wide by Pepe Reina.
Liverpool, who failed for the first time to reach the knockout stages under manager Rafa Benitez, must now settle for a place in the Europa league.
“You have to be disappointed, we did our job today, but we are out. That is something we cannot change now. We made mistakes,” Benitez said
“Our next goal is to do well in the Europa League.”
Captain Steven Gerrard said it had been disappointing to rely on other teams for the opportunity to progress.
“We’ve played fantastically well tonight and deserved the three points, so it’s disappointing that we won’t progress in the Champions League,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Barcelona’s victory lifted the defending champions from third to first and all but ensured qualification while Inter are now in danger of going out.
“A victory like this helps us … to finish first,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.
“We played a good game, which is fantastic for us.”
Tuesday November 24
Alkmaar 0-0 Olympiakos
Wednesday November 25
AC Milan v Marseille
Jose Mourinho’s team are level on six points with newly crowned Russian champion Rubin Kazan who were held 0-0 at home by Dynamo Kiev.
“Only Barca played and they played well,” said Inter coach Jose Mourinho.
“Inter just didn’t have the level to match.”
To make it even more exciting going to the final round of games on December 9, last place Kiev could still qualify.
They have five points and, if they beat Barcelona at home and Inter and Rubin draw in Milan, then Barca and Kiev will go through.
Fiorentina made it to the second round with a 1-0 victory over Lyon, who had already qualified from Group E.
Juan Vargas’ 29th minute penalty was enough for Fiorentina’s fourth victory in five group games and sent the Italian side through with 12 points, knocking out Liverpool.
Arsenal qualified for the last 16 with a 2-0 home victory over Standard Liege with goals by Sami Nasri and Denilson and guaranteed finishing as group winner.
Second place Olympiakos were held 0-0 by AZ Alkmaar and hold a three-point lead over Standard Liege going into the final round of games.
“In this group, we were favourites,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose team reached the 2006 final and has repeatedly made it to the last eight.
“We did the job. If you put the 10 years together, we have been consistent.”
Romanian champion Unirea beat already-qualified Sevilla 1-0 at home to move closer to a place in the last 16 on their debut in the competition.
Sevilla defender Ivica Dragutinovic headed the ball into his own net in the final minute of the first half and Unirea now have eight points, two fewer than the Spanish team.
Despite languishing in the Bundesliga relegation zone, Stuttgart shrugged off their dismal domestic form by winning 2-0 away to Rangers to stay in contention for the knockout round but still two points behind Unirea, who they host next.
“The team played very well, we were the better team and we created many chances and I am very happy,” said Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel.
“We played with heart and aggression and did a very good job.
“Now we have a big chance at home against (Unirea) Urziceni and, if we win this game, we are qualified for the Champions League and we will try everything.”
Teenager Sebastian Rudy scored on his first Champions League start and his cross set up a headed second by Zdravko Kuzmanovic in the second half.
The loss was Rangers third in a row at home and they are guaranteed to finish last with no chance of a Europa League spot.