Lovren Penalty Miss Adds Extra Pain

Published: 27th February 2015 08:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2015 08:05 AM   |  A+A-

It was never going to have the same spine-tingling brilliance or history-defining prestige as Liverpool's famous Champions League final win in this stadium a decade ago, but a Europa League defeat was never supposed to be as painful as this.

There was enough drama to write another chapter in the club's proud European history, but it will be filed under the failure section as Dejan Lovren missed a spot kick in a penalty shoot-out to send Beskitas through after the tie had finished 1-1 on aggregate.

It is the first time Liverpool have failed to win the 12-yard lottery in Europe. It was just another setback for Lovren, whose move from Southampton last summer turned sour long before he sent his penalty high and wide.

As with all defeats of this kind it was agonising, but the suffering was accentuated by the fact Liverpool were forced to play for 120 minutes rather than 90. Manchester City will have been delighted about that.

"It's very disappointing to lose in the manner that we did," said Brendan Rodgers, the manager. "We had enough chances in the first half to make it very difficult for them to get back into it. We defended well, but the one mistake we made, when we fell too deep, we were punished. There was much in the game, but I can only give credit to my young players because they will have gained a lot of experience from this.

"Our objective this season was to win a cup competition, but it won't be this one. We wanted to win here, even if we were missing creative players. We've still got a wonderful opportunity in the FA Cup."

Tactically, Liverpool got things right in the first half, their speed in attack forcing Beskitas to keep men back, while a three-man defence was able to suffocate the Turkish side's lone striker, Demba Ba, easily enough. But they did not convert their chances and in the second, invited too much pressure.
Eventually Besiktas got the equaliser their raucous supporters craved through Tolgay Arslan and Rodgers got what he dreaded ahead of Sunday lunchtime's pivotal Premier League game with Manchester City - extra time.

With injuries and fatigue taken into account, this was the strongest side Rodgers could have named for a game they began with a one-goal advantage from the first leg.

Few stadiums generate as much noise as those packed full of Turkish supporters sensing a memorable occasion and as hard as Liverpool tried, it must have been difficult to keep emotions controlled.

Liverpool were the more threatening team before the break, Alberto Moreno advancing down the left and pushing the ball on to Raheem Sterling, whose shot was pushed away by Cenk Gonen. Liverpool were starting to threaten, pressing high up the pitch, they rattled Besiktas' defenders and deep midfielders.

Daniel Sturridge should have done better running on to a long ball over the top than to allow Pedro Franco to recover the ball.
It was a deliberate ploy, Sturridge darting on to another long pass, squaring to Sterling, but his shot deflected wide.

The chances were all falling to the visitors, Mario Balotelli teeing up Sturridge, but his low strike was well saved by the goalkeeper. Not for the first time, though, the England striker took too long on the ball before deciding what to do with it. The shot should have been hit early. He seems in danger of falling into bad old
habits.

Liverpool needed a goal while they were on top, Alberto Moreno's first-time effort, after a precise interchange with Balotelli, straight at Gonen. Beskitas were clinging on, but they did force a decent save from Simon Mignolet before half-time when olcay Sahan cut inside and let fly from 20 yards. It was a warning to Liverpool, this game could still be lost.

Beskitas started the second half strongly, but Liverpool defended well, limiting Serdar Kurtulus and Jose Sosa to long range shots that Mignolet dealt with efficiently enough.

The pressure grew on the visitors, not helped by Balotelli and Sturridge's inability to hold on to the ball up top. Besitkas were still confined to trying the spectacular, although substitute Arslan went close from 30 yards and they eventually got the goal they had threatened since half-time.
Ba received a pass from Gorkhan Tore turned away from Martin Skrtel and Arslan thumped a shot home from the edge of the area.

Beskitas should have won it in the first minute of stoppage time too when Ba pounced on a loose ball, but shot against the bar from five yards.

The former Chelsea man drew a sharp save from Mignolet in the first period of extra time as the home team continued to push Liverpool back.

The visitors clung on, but it was in vain.

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