Liverpool's disappointing season took a turn for the worse as they were bundled out of the Champions League despite a narrow 1-0 victory over Debrecen in Budapest. David Ngog scored the only goal of a nervy match to secure victory for Rafael Benitez's side but events in Italy, where Fiorentina closed out a 1-0 win of their own over Lyon, ensured the Reds would miss out on the lucrative knockout phase. Debrecen have been the whipping boys of Group E, conceding 13 goals in their previous three matches, but Liverpool were not even able to producing a convincing victory as they exited at this stage for the first time since 2002. The road to Madrid, where the Champions League final is due to be played, now becomes the road to Hamburg - where the new Europa League will reach its conclusion - with Liverpool joining the likes of Valencia, Benfica and neighbours Everton. 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. Fabio Aurelio's cross from the right curled to the far post for Jamie 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. 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. But now nerves were getting to the Liverpool men as they toiled to clinch the match. Carragher headed an Aurelio corner just wide but the second goal remained elusive as the Reds exited Europe's premier competition.
Benitez accepted his side can only blame themselves for their elimination. "It was our own fault in the end, the late goals we have conceded along the way have cost us," said the Spaniard. "We have been so good in the last few years that maybe people think it is easy to qualify in all competitions. "We have to be disappointed, we knew we had to win and we did that. You cannot change what happened in Florence, but at least we did our job." * PA Sport