Beleaguered Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez suffered a further setback as the Premier League side were knocked out of the Champions League, despite winning their Group E game.
There was joy for Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger though, as the Gunners progressed to the next round with a 2-0 victory against Standard Liege.
Although Liverpool did what they needed to do to stay in the competition by winning 1-0 at Debrecen, they were still knocked out because Serie A side Fiorentina beat Olympique Lyon, who had already advanced.
In Budapest David Ngog scored in the fourth minute as the former champions Liverpool completely dominated proceedings and could quite easily have won by a higher score.
Their victory was to no avail though as Fiorentina’s Peruvian international Juan Vargas scored from the spot midway through the first half to ensure a place in the knockout stage for his side.
In London Samir Nasri and Denilson scored in the first half for Arsenal in their Group H match, which Liege finished with ten men after Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez was sent off in the second half for head-butting Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.
Fabregas said that his side had kept on trying to play well in the second half. “It is always dangerous to stop playing when you have a two-goal lead and I think we actually did quite well, even if we did not score.” Second-placed Olympiakos, who could have joined the Gunners in the next round had they won against AZ Alkmaar, played to a goalless draw in the Netherlands and now need to avoid defeat in their final game at home to Arsenal to be sure of going through.
Group F, meanwhile, will go down to the wire after Rubin Kazan played to a goalless draw against Dynamo Kiev — a result that helped the other two teams in the league, Inter Milan and Barcelona.
The defending champions Barcelona could also have been knocked out ahead of their final game had things not gone their way on Tuesday, but goals by Gerard Pique and Pedro Rodriguez gave them a 2-0 victory against the Serie A side to move them to the top of the table on eight points, while Inter and Rubin are on six points. Kiev have five.
In Group G Rangers were stunned 2-0 in Glasgow by Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart, while Unirea Urziceni upset the already-qualified Sevilla 1-0 to keep their hopes of an unlikely place in the next round alive.
In Glasgow — in a match both sides needed to win to keep their hopes alive — Stuttgart were the more enterprising side and deservedly won through goals by Sebastian Rudy and Zdravko Kuzmanovic.
Urziceni, for whom Sevilla’s defender Ivica Dragutinovic scored with an own goal, are two points behind Sevilla, while Stuttgart who secured their first win from five games, are on six points and are assured of at least qualifying for the Europa League if they fail to finish second.
Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel said he was looking forward to his side’s winner-take-all clash against the Romanian side in their final group game.
“This is what we were hoping for. I am very proud of my players that they have come this far and are still in the race. We have our own destiny in our hands and that is a good place to be,” he said.