Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers did not look for excuses after his side lost to Besiktas on penalties on their return to the Ataturk Stadium.
The Istanbul stadium was the venue for their famous 2005 Champions League victory, also on penalties, but there was no repeat this time as Dejan Lovren missed the decisive last kick as the hosts won the shoot-out 5-4 after Tolgay Arslan had levelled the aggregate score in normal time.
“We are disappointed of course to go out in the manner we did,” said Rodgers.
“I thought we created opportunities in the first half and over the course of the game we defended very well. We just got too deep and they scored.
“I am proud of the players, the young players have had a great experience in a fantastic atmosphere.
“We were missing a lot of our creativity this evening (Liverpool had eight senior players missing) but there is no excuse. We played a lot of young players, we played with two strikers, so it was an attacking line-up and then once Besiktas get the goal we didn’t create so much.”
“Our objective this season was to win a cup. It is not to be in this competition but we have an excellent opportunity in another competition (the FA Cup).”
Rodgers had sympathy for Lovren, who has not enjoyed the best start to his career at Anfield after joining for £20million from Southampton in the summer.
“Dejan was happy to take a penalty – you see the five penalties takers were all confident,” he added.
“The four before had experience before in a penalty competition this season — and they were confident.
“We are disappointed for him because he had played really well in the game but someone has to miss, and unfortunately it was us.”
Liverpool lost their first European penalty shoot-out as Lovren was the only man to miss from the spot against Besiktas in Istanbul.
There was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won the Champions League on penalties against AC Milan in 2005, as Rodgers’ side exited the Europa League after a torturous affair.
On two of their three previous occasions Liverpool’s success from the spot earned them a European Cup, on the other it was for a place in the final.
This occasion it was merely for a place in the last 16 of the Europa League but that should not have mattered.
But having conceded a 72nd-minute goal to substitute Tolgay Arslan to level the tie at 1-1 on aggregate Liverpool, shorn of eight senior players, had nothing left in the tank and looked dead on their feet after 120 minutes.
However, substitutes Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can – suffering from cramp – and Joe Allen all converted their penalties but when Arslan scored Besiktas’s fifth Lovren could not reply.
BESIKTAS: Gonen, Opare, Franco, Uysal, Kurtulus, Hutchinson, Kavlak, Tore, Sosa (Arslan 61), Sahan (Frei 105), Ba.
LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Toure, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Can, Allen, Sterling, Ibe (Manquillo 76), Sturridge (Lambert 106), Balotelli (Lallana 82).
Ref: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).