Liverpool FC 1-1 FC Basel
Liverpool FC's continued participation in this season’s UEFA Champions League was thrown into doubt after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Group B rivals FC Basel at Anfield.
The result left the English Premiership side with just one point from two games and facing a complicated passage through their qualifying group. The home side never looked like adding to Milan Baroš's opener on 34 minutes and the Swiss outfit, showing both commitment and flair, were well worth their equaliser through Julio Hernán Rossi, just before the break.
Anfield stadium, celebrating its 100th European game, had no doubt hoped for a more polished performance especially from the out-of-sorts Michael Owen. However, the England striker once again lacked his usual predatory instincts and was substituted towards the end of the 90 minutes.
Riise rattles bar
Liverpool, however, started brightly, with their opening chance coming as early as the first minute. John Arne Riise hit a volley into the ground from just inside the area only to see goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler tip the spiralling ball on to the bar. The visitors failed to heed the early warning of the young Norwegian’s potency in front of goal and on ten minutes Riise once again rattled the woodwork.
Baroš breaks deadlock
The game ebbed and flowed for most of the first period, but it was the influential Baroš who broke the deadlock on 34 minutes, with a sweet right-footed shot low into the corner of the net after a neat return pass from Emile Heskey.
Basel hit back
Liverpool were in the ascendancy after that but once again the lapses of concentration in defence which have dogged Gérard Houllier's side this season allowed the visitors back into the game. Antonio Esposito picked up a loose clearance and floated a delicate chip over Jamie Carragher and into the path of Argentinian striker Rossi who calmly finished with a shot between Jerzy Dudek's legs.
The goal galvinised Basel in the second period and they quickly suffocated Liverpool's midfield, sorely missing the drive of the suspended Dietmar Hamann. Steven Gerrard had a couple of long-range efforts easily gathered by Zuberbühler and as the game progressed the energy of younger players such as Bruno Cheyrou and Baroš faded.
Henchoz spares blushes
Liverpool almost paid a greater price in the final minutes as Danny Murphy dithered on the ball and the impressive Mario Cantaluppi broke free on the right flank. However, Stéphane Henchoz's timely intervention kept Liverpool in the game, and maybe the competition.