Liverpool go out as Fiorentina, Arsenal progress
LONDON (Reuters) - Five-times winners Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages despite a 1-0 win at Debrecen on Tuesday while Fiorentina and Arsenal qualified for the last 16.
Holders Barcelona revived their campaign with a surprisingly comfortable 2-0 triumph over Inter Milan in the night's top match, scoring twice in the first 26 minutes through Gerard Pique and Pedro.
Arsenal reached the last 16 for the 10th season in a row thanks to a 2-0 home win over Standard Liege.
Fiorentina went through by beating already-qualified Olympique Lyon 1-0 with a penalty by Peru's Juan Vargas to join Girondins Bordeaux, Manchester United, Chelsea, Porto and Sevilla in the next round.
The win by the Italians also ended Liverpool's chances in Group E.
"We have been so good (in recent years) in the Champions League, now people think it has to be like that every year," Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez told reporters.
Benitez's team arrived in Hungary knowing their fate was largely out of their hands and David Ngog's fourth minute winner, which condemned debutants Debrecen to their fifth straight defeat, proved in vain.
Fiorentina's win took them top with 12 points, two ahead of Lyon with Liverpool a further three points behind. Even if the five-times winners pull level with Lyon, the French side will qualify on the head-to-head record.
Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o was given a warm welcome on his return to the Nou Camp with new club Inter but had little else to enjoy.
Although the Catalans had won only three of their previous seven home Champions League games, they were unbeaten in six matches against Italian sides.
Even without injured Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barcelona were too good for Inter.
Pique volleyed in from a 10th minute corner before Pedro finished off a flowing attacking move to double the lead.
The win sent Barcelona top of Group F with eight points, two ahead of Jose Mourinho's Inter side and third-placed Russian champions Rubin Kazan who were held to a goalless draw at home in the snow by Dynamo Kiev.
Kiev are bottom with five points but could still qualify. Barcelona visit the Ukrainians in the final round of matches next month while Inter host Rubin.
"We have shown that anyone who comes into this side brings something," said Barca's Daniel Alves in a reference to the replacements for Ibrahimovic and Messi.
Arsenal had little trouble extending their unbeaten Champions League home record against foreign opposition to 29 games.
The Londoners broke through with a Samir Nasri half-volley in the 35th minute before Brazilian Denilson scored with a dipping 30-metre effort in first-half stoppage time.
The win guaranteed Arsenal a first-place finish in Group H as they went six points clear of Olympiakos who drew 0-0 at AZ Alkmaar.
Debutants Unirea Urziceni boosted their chances in Group G by beating already-qualified Sevilla 1-0 after Ivica Dragutinovic headed into his own net just before halftime.
The Romanian champions are second with eight points, two ahead of VfB Stuttgart who beat Rangers 2-0 to hand the Scottish side their third straight home defeat in the group.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)
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