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Braga stand firm to oust Liverpool

Liverpool FC 0-0 SC Braga (agg: 0-1)
The three-time UEFA Cup winners are out of European competition having been stifled by a dogged defensive display from the visitors.

Braga stand firm to oust Liverpool
Braga stand firm to oust Liverpool ©UEFA.com

SC Braga reached the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals with a 0-0 draw at Anfield which ensured Liverpool FC joined a lengthening list of high-profile casualties to have succumbed to the Portuguese outfit this season.

With three UEFA Cup titles to their name, Liverpool were the most successful side left in this season's competition. They could not overturn Braga's 1-0 first-leg advantage, though, failing to win for only the second time in 11 European home games. They therefore go the same way as Celtic FC and Sevilla FC, who lost to Domingos Paciência's team in the UEFA Champions League qualifying stages.

Making his first Liverpool start, Andy Carroll did his utmost to prevent that from the off. An imposing leap, a deft flick-on, and Joe Cole – himself initially lively and elusive – was only denied by Artur. A corner ensued and there was Carroll again, his climb perfect, his header narrowly wide.

Glen Johnson soon followed suit and a vociferous home support sensed their chance. Braga, though, found their feet and checked the hosts' early momentum, Lima's shot warming Pepe Reina's hands for the first time. Narrow in midfield, the Reds were frustrated thereafter, Carroll's presence disruptive but not decisive.

Liverpool continued to go aerial after half-time, Raul Meireles heading Dirk Kuyt's cross wide as they renewed the bombardment. Braga's impressive work rate never ceased and they continued to play their part, Alan poking wide and Hugo Viana testing Reina from a free-kick.

The Reds needed a closing quarter-hour like the one they opened with. Kenny Dalglish played his part, David Ngog coming on to form a three-pronged attack and immediately testing Artur. Helped out by Kuyt's inadvertent block from Carroll's header, the Braga keeper surpassed himself five minutes from time when he stood firm to deny Martin Škrtel. His side had done likewise all evening.