Ten-man Liverpool bowed out of the Champions League Tuesday after being held to a 1-1 draw by Basel. Fabian Frei fired the Swiss visitors into the lead after 25 minutes, stunning the subdued Reds, who never found their rhythm on a disappointing night at Anfield.
Lazar Markovic was sent off on the hour for throwing an arm at Behrang Safari, with Liverpool still trailing and looking increasingly desperate. Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up to fire home a curling free-kick to notch his 30th Champions League goal, but the talismanic midfielder could not complete another trademark rescue act.
Too often in times past Liverpool had fallen on Gerrard to dig them out of trouble, but even Gerrard could not lift an average Liverpool side. Questions will have to be asked about Brendan Rodger’s tactics as the Reds failed to win their last five Champions League games. This was a group that Liverpool should have been able to navigate to to the knockout stages, but draws against Ludogorets and Basel doomed Liverpool to the nightmare scenario of playing Thursday night and Sunday. A tough task for a side trying to get back into the top four of the Premier League.
Cristiano Ronaldo led Real’s charge, scoring from the penalty spot, before Gareth Bale, Alvaro Arbeloa and Alvaro Medran completed proceedings. Marcelinho’s 20th minute red card gifted Real their opener from the spot, with Ronaldo surpassing Raul’s 71-goal Champions League haul. Madrid set a new Spanish record of 19 consecutive victories with their routine triumph.
Arsenal hammered Galatasaray 4-1 in Turkey, but still wound up finishing second in Group D. Aaron Ramsey scored two goals in 18 first-half minutes to add to his weekend strike in Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League defeat to Stoke.
The Wales midfielder ended his 17-match barren run for both club and country against the Potters, and gave further indications of a return to scoring form in Turkey. Lukas Podolski also fired home twice, starting the rout on three minutes and compounding the hosts’ misery in stoppage time. Wesley Sneijder had notched for Galatasaray, but the home side were outclassed as Arsene Wenger’s fired back to form after the frustrations of their Stoke loss.
Ciro Immobile’s goal ensure Borussia Dortmund sealed top spot, despite his side’s 1-1 home draw with Anderlecht. The hosts took the lead just ahead of the hour, expecting to coast home, only for Aleksandar Mitrovic to level with six minutes to play.
Monaco sneaked into top spot in Group C with a 2-0 home victory over Zenit St Petersburg. Defenders Aymen Abdennour and Fabinho claimed the vital second-half goals as Monaco overhauled Bayer Leverkusen into top spot.
Leverkusen were held to a frustrating goalless draw at Benfica, and their inability to secure victory gifted Monaco first place in the group. Olympiacos eased past Malmo 4-2 in Greece, but their comfortable victory was not enough to secure a last-16 spot.
Juventus secured second place in Group A with a goalless draw against pool winners Atletico Madrid. David Fuster, Alejandro Dominguez, Kostas Mitroglou and Ibrahim Afellay claimed the crucial strikes for Olympiacos, with Simon Kroon and captain Markus Rosenberg hitting back for the visitors.
Malmo’s Enock Adu was sent off for a second yellow card in the closing stages, but by then the hosts had already secured their win. Atletico rode their luck in shutting out Juventus in Italy, but the hosts’ point secured their safe passage to the next round, at Olympiacos’ expense.