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Liverpool ease through in Eindhoven

PSV Eindhoven 1-3 Liverpool FC
Ryan Babel, Albert Riera and David N'Gog took the English team comfortably through as Group D winners and brought an end to PSV's European season.

Ryan Babel, Lucas, Robbie Keane and Álvaro Arbeloa celebrate Liverpool's success
Ryan Babel, Lucas, Robbie Keane and Álvaro Arbeloa celebrate Liverpool's success ©Getty Images

Goals by Ryan Babel, Albert Riera and David N'Gog took Liverpool FC comfortably into the UEFA Champions League first knockout round as the winners of Group D and left PSV Eindhoven languishing at the bottom of the table with only three points.

PSV ahead
The first half was a relatively even affair but the home side took the lead on 36 minutes, Danko Lazović sidefooting in after Liverpool failed to clear a corner. Unfortunately for the Dutch champions they could not maintain the advantage for long, former AFC Ajax striker Babel heading in on the stroke of half-time. A fabulous long-range strike by Riera put Rafael Benítez's men in the driving seat and N'Gog's composed finish put the matter beyond doubt.

Slow start
Neither side was able to gain the upper hand in the early exchanges, with the flow of the game often interrupted by fouls. Robbie Keane, desperate to impress Rafael Benítez, often dropped deep looking for the ball but his efforts were to little avail. The first opening of any note came after 15 minutes, PSV captain Timmy Simons firing in a rising drive from the edge of the box that Diego Cavalieri, on his UEFA Champions League debut, parried to safety. With half an hour gone the game was still lacking momentum with PSV struggling, and the visitors reluctant, to break the contest open.

Lazović strikes
Then, out of nothing, Huub Stevens' side conjured a goal nine minutes before the interval. Balázs Dzsudzsák curled in his side's first corner of the evening from the right, and Javier Mascherano's headed clearance cannoned off Dirk Marcellis into the path of Lazović. The Serbian striker kept a cool head and stroked the ball through Cavalieri's legs from close range to give his side a somewhat unexpected lead.

Babel equalises
N'Gog had a decent chance to level matters just before the break, but his free header from Andrea Dossena's cross was straight at Andreas Isaksson, who held it comfortably. Immediately after, his striking partner Ryan Babel showed him the way by rising among a crowd of players to nod Lucas's free-kick down past Isaksson for the equaliser.

Magnificent Riera
The second period was much more lively, with the Merseysid outfit creating two chances in quick succession. Babel's low centre was whipped off Keane's toe by Simons inside the box, then N'Gog was stopped by a fine sliding interception from Carlos Salcido. Otman Bakkal had a firm drive from a distance saved by Cavalieri just before the hour and PSV threatened again when Álvaro Arbeloa almost headed Dzsudzsák's cross into his own net. Yet it was the visitors who struck  on 68 minutes, Riera firing in a magnificent swerving effort from all of 30 metres.

Clinical N'Gog
PSV immediately brought on Danny Koevermans to bolster the attack, but it was a defender, Marcellis, who came close, hitting the outside of the post with 15 minutes remaining. Soon after it was all over, though, N'Gog running clear and beat Isaksson with a confident low finish, denying the Eindhoven side the consolation of a UEFA Cup place.