Another Late Goal, Another Disappointing Result But It Wasn't All Bad

Liverpool ended this years Champions League campaign last night on a bit of a low note. After playing some good football and looking the better side at many stages within the game they were defeated by a late Fiorentina goal which ensured that the Italians would top the group

Benitez had a chance to start an experimental 11 for this match and that he did. The starting line up consisted of Cavalieri, Darby, Dossena and of course Aquilani. It was a great chance to see some less frequent faces and it was also a very exciting moment for many a Liverpool fan poised and ready to analyze Aquilani's first start for the club since being signed in August.

The first 45 minutes consisted of a confident and forward pushing Liverpool. Despite the positive play the final product appeared to be the problem though, shots were sparse and Fiorentina were becoming more dangerous on the counter attack.

Cavalieri was called to duty on a few occasions in the first half and each time he reacted calmly and commanded his area. The more i watch him the more i feel he keeps hawk eyes on Pepe Reina, he is obviously a very attentive person and a good learner. May i just take this opportunity to congratulate him on a great performance last night, aside from one or two dodgey moments he was excellent, you did your father proud lad.

Meanwhile all eyes were on Aquilani, everytime the ball was at his feet or he was in acres of space you could just feel the tension. "Don't mess up" , "Give it Alberto!" everyone was so excited to see him and thankfully most people kept a reasonable expectation rather than expecting him to hit the ground running and i think for his first start for Liverpool he did well.

For me at the moment, all i expect from him is good passing ability and the ability to see that link between midfield and the forward. Anything else he brings to the table in the next month or so is a bonus, however once he has settled in and the starts are rolling, i shall be expecting more, last night was obviously an under par Aquilani, one who will continue to improve so i shall keep my fingers crossed.

His passing ability was definitely proved last night as that was to be his main role, he appears to have good vision and he was also always on the front foot, ready to receive a pass whenever needs be. We also saw flashes of the Italians skill, something that is always good to see - providing it works - and it did.

It was Yossi Benayoun however, one of the regular lads that sent home Liverpool's first goal. Steven Gerrard delivered a fantastic free kick which was curving into the box when Yossi saw his opportunity and flew into the air producing a glancing header which sent the ball into the far side of goal. Fantastic.

Into the second half one nil up, it was looking like Liverpool would be able to leave the Champions League in style atleast, another good performance in the second half would be needed and a steady defence but it was looking do-able for Liverpool.

Second half and Liverpool began positively, with crosses galore from Gerrard and Dossena into the danger area, Fiorentina were being weakened at the back.

Dossena in my eyes had a stormer of a game, with Insua at left back and Riera/Aurelio not the first choice for this game in particluar he started on the left wing. A lot of people seem to jump on his back claiming he's a bad buy from Benitez but for me he's a brilliant asset. I'm not saying he should start every game and that he's a world beater or anything but his passion and work ethic yesterday were second to none, he gave 100% and it wasn't wasteful. With plenty of charges down the wing and crosses into the box along with a couple of decent efforts himself i thought he deserved the highlight.

62 minutes and Martin Jorgensen who was a constant threat from the Italians equalized for the away side after slotting his attempt into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

Again Liverpool had conceded after leading by just the one goal. Never before have i felt we were so vulnerable to conceding so easily. Fair point it wasn't the full first team squad but that team too has defensive problems at the moment.

Liverpool made three changes in the second half seeing Torres, Pacheco and Aurelio all make an appearance.

With a strong squad still out there Liverpool still needed to retain the draw to walk away with some sense of achievement but Fiorentina had seen the chance now and they were determined to take it.

Liverpool almost changed things when Pacheco had a confident strike almost straight after coming on as a substitute causing a stretched save from the viola keeper. Pacheco again is another very promising youngster, from the few glances we were given he seems a very exciting prospect.

As the dying minutes began to tick away it was imminent that Liverpool would walk away with some dignity but by the way of Liverpool's Champions League campaign so far this season, another late goal was conceded.

An unfortunate mistake from an otherwise good performance from local lad Darby saw Fiorentina take full advantage of the space for the attack, Gilardino who had also been excellent throughout the game was the goalscorer and you could see what it meant to him after he attempted to reach the away fans by clambering over the advertising boards.

So there we have it, another loss and another goal conceded far too easily. We can be thankful that it doesn't really matter but that should take nothing away from the clear problems we have in our performances at this moment in time.

Plenty of positives to take from the game and in some ways the scoreline wasn't really a good reflection of the game, despite this i am in a strange way glad Fiorentina won, for the sole reason that it was the only way they could top the group. They fully deserve it.

When we made the trip to Florence many people were not as weary of the Italian opposition, maintaining the idea that Lyon would in fact be the side to watch in the group. I always had a different opinion, from the day the draw was made i knew they would be a tougher team to beat. Take nothing away from Lyon, they did well themselves but just by contrasting the performance from Fiorentina at home against us and the performance by Lyon said enough for me.

So congratulations Fiorentina and here's to the new year when we can embark on the new challenge of the Europa League.