Gerrard admits it’s ‘not good enough’ as Reds end in failure

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard reflected on his team’s Champions League campaign and admitted it had been “not good enough” after the Reds’ involvement in the competition finished with a 2-1 home defeat to Fiorentina at Anfield last night.

Yossi Benayoun’s glancing header gave his side the lead shortly before half-time only for Martin Jorgensen to equalise with a low left-footed shot in the 63rd minute and Alberto Gilardino to snatch a winner two minutes into added time.

Gerrard said: “If you look at the whole campaign, it was not good enough but now we need to try qualify for the same competition next year.

“It wasn’t our strongest team but we gave a good account of ourselves. We were a bit unlucky to lose in the end.

“There was not much in it as far as points were concerned. It was just about getting this game out of the way and trying to get good preparation for the game against Arsenal on Sunday.”

With the Reds having already failed to qualify for the knockout stages, the only positives from a lacklustre encounter were a 76-minute run-out for Alberto Aquilani and the return from injury of striker Fernando Torres after a five-match absence.

Gerrard took heart from the performance of summer signing Aquilani.

“He’s done well,” said the skipper. “It’s going to take him a while until he gets up to speed as far as match fitness is concerned. But the boy’s a player, there’s no two ways about it.”

On the prospect of playing in the Europa League, Gerrard added: “It’s another cup to try to win. We’ll try to win it now.”

Rafa Benitez is not worried about the prospect of his team not being seeded for the Europa League.

“We can’t change this. We have to just play,” he said.

“There are also some top sides in the Europa League so you have to accept this.”

On whether he would play his strongest team in the second-tier competition, he said: “We will try to win against Arsenal, and after we will see.”

Early on, Liverpool failed to create anything significant and their Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri saved well from Lorenzo De Silvestri and Riccardo Montolivo to keep his side level.

The game meandered towards the break before Liverpool found themselves ahead after 43 minutes.

Manuel Pasqual’s foul on Steven Gerrard gave the Liverpool captain the chance to lift a free-kick towards the near post for Yossi Benayoun to flick a header back into the far corner, despite keeper Sebastien Frey getting a touch.

After the break, Liverpool were punished for poor judgement by Martin Skrtel, who allowed a cross-field pass to drift past him. Darby was left facing two attackers, and could do little to stop captain Martin Jorgensen driving home the equaliser after 63 minutes.

Fiorentina’s winner came in added time and left Liverpool with their worst-ever Champions League group points tally.

LIVERPOOL: Cavalieri, Darby, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Aquilani (Pacheco 76), Mascherano (Aurelio 86), Benayoun, Gerrard, Dossena, Kuyt (Torres 65).

FIORENTINA: Frey, Comotto, Natali, Kroldrup, Pasqual, De Silvestri (Castillo 83), Montolivo, Donadel, Jorgensen (Vargas 71), Santana (Marchionni 71), Gilardino.

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).

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