Liverpool crash out of the Europa League - who's to blame?

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As Dejan Lovren stepped up to take Liverpool's fifth penalty he must of certainly thought that this was his chance to prove his worth to both fans and manager.

Score this and a spot in this weekends starting eleven against Manchester City may well be his, he must have thought. Unluckily for Lovren, and the rest of his Liverpool teammates, his effort was well wide and Liverpool crashed out of the Europa League.

Lay Blame Where Blame Should be Placed

Liverpool entered the second leg in Istanbul with a 1-0 aggregate lead. The one goal advantage, a controversial Mario Balotelli penalty should have been enough for Liverpool to exploit Besiktas' drive for an equalising goal.

However, while Lovren will be vilified for his horrendous miss it cannot be overlooked that Liverpool, as a team, blew a chance to advance. This fresh European failure could not be attributed to a single player, rather the team as a whole is to blame.

Besiktas' Game

Credit where credit is due. Besiktas had a plan and they executed it perfectly. When not on the ball the Turkish side pressed Liverpool over the entire pitch causing their opposition countless problems. When Liverpool invariably gave-up possession Besiktas worked the ball wide to stretch the play and keep their opponents disjointed.

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Rather then learn from this over the 120 minutes encounter Liverpool stubbornly continued to try and play the ball from the back. With the majority of the possession and ingenuity Slaven Bilic's side was bound to score. And in the 72 minute they got their just rewards. Besiktas winger Gökhan Töre was a constant thorne in Liverpool's side on the flank. On this occasion he once again drove down the right flank and cut towards the centre where a pass to substitute Tolgay Arslan is curled into the net passed a sprawling Simon Mignolet.


Liverpool sorely missed the absence of vice-captain Jordan Henderson (illness), French defender Mamadou Sakho (hip) and creative midfielder Philipe Coutinho (rested). Without these three players Liverpool looked entirely out of sorts. The entire team just looked a full step behind the play. Pass were frequently intercepted or were off target and the tight and compact passing style that enthralled crowds last year broke down constantly.

These injuries put Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers in a difficult situation. He fielded a team he believed could win. But without the stern presence of Sakho at the back, the energy and determination of Jordan Henderson and the vision of Countinho up front Liverpool just fell flat. The worrying sign for Liverpool is how will these injuries affect their incredible form in the league?

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