After a gruelling 120 minute ordeal which culminated in a penalty shoot out defeat at the Ataturk Arena, Liverpool exited the Europa League in bitterly disappointing fashion. Here’s how our individual players performed on the night.
Simon Mignolet – 7/10
With Besiktas repeatedly willing to test Mignolet from range, the Belgian was sharp and alert throughout, handling some powerful shots with confidence and commanding his box with authority. There was nothing he could do about the Besiktas goal, curled perfectly into the top corner to deny Mignolet his clean sheet. His strong form continues.
Kolo Toure – 6/10
Toure started for the first time since New Year’s Day after his African Cup of Nations triumph with the Ivory Coast. Playing on the right of the back three, he looked comfortable and assured for the most part, although in the second half he backed off Besiktas’ attacking players once or twice, allowing them a shot at goal far too easily. He also lacks the ball playing abilities of Emre Can in this position.
Martin Skrtel – 7/10
In a thoroughly disappointing performance, Skrtel was probably one of Liverpool’s better performers on the night. He was dominant in the air as he has been recently and coped well with the threat of Demba Ba, restricting the striker’s freedom in dangerous positions.
Dejan Lovren – 6/10
I feel bad for Lovren. He started his Liverpool career terribly, but recent weeks have seen definite signs of improvement. Starting at left sided centre back, Lovren actually had a fairly decent game in my opinion. He tackled well and won important headers, although his ball playing skills are far inferior to Sakho and his passing was at times horribly misplaced. Bafflingly, it was Lovren who took the crucial 5th penalty in the shootout, which was a shocking effort, blazed over the bar. Credit to him for at least having the confidence to step up, but I wasn’t surprised he missed, and it’s the last thing he needed. Leaving the pitch in tears, with fans on his back more than ever, his confidence will be in pieces even more than it already was. It’ll take a very strong character to come back from this.
Jordon Ibe – 5/10
Ibe has been sensational recently but he spent most of this game playing as an orthodox right back, camped in a defensive position with his forward play severely limited. He’s played a lot of football recently, and for a 19 year old to be thrust into an atmosphere as intense as this, it was a very tough ask for Ibe. He didn’t do much wrong but he couldn’t affect the game in the final third as much as recently before being replaced by Manquillo on 75 minutes.
Joe Allen – 6/10
For the first hour or so, Allen had a very strong game. He read the play well, broke up Besiktas’ attacking moves with strong tackles and interceptions, as well as some neat passing to retain possession. However, he struggled to maintain this level in the latter stages and appeared tired, unable to assert enough control in midfield. He took his penalty brilliantly.
Emre Can – 6/10
Can was given the opportunity in Henderson’s absence to start in midfield. He showed his engine, performing a box-to-box role. There were some brilliant moments of skill and some strong tackling, but it’s clear he doesn’t naturally have the discipline to shield the back four like Lucas. Similarly to Allen, he suffered later on as the Liverpool midfield was overrun. He took an excellent penalty and it was good to see him rushing over to a devastated Lovren to comfort him, showing the kind of leadership which has lead to suggestions of potential captain material.
Alberto Moreno – 7/10
Moreno was Liverpool’s best performer in this poor performance. He repeatedly got forward with pace and persistently stretched Besiktas down the left flank, whilst tracking back very well and making a series of superb tackles and interceptions. The last few months have seen Moreno prove to be a really solid player which is great to see after an inconsistent start to the season.
Raheem Sterling – 3/10
Operating in a central position behind Balotelli and Sturridge, Sterling had a night to forget. Nothing he did seemed to work. He looked lethargic and indecisive and was unable to create any real chances, nor did he look like scoring himself aside from one decent effort in the first half. I was surprised not to see him step up to take a penalty in the shoot out.
Mario Balotelli – 6/10
Besiktas clearly targeted Balotelli all evening. He was repeatedly bundled over and fouled, and committed a rash challenge to earn a precarious first half booking. After that, he did well to control his temper and showed some excellent hold up play, winning several free kicks and also providing Sturridge with a golden opportunity to score in the first half, picking the Englishman out with an accurate, well timed pass. He worked much harder than either Sturridge or Sterling, despite ITV’s attempts to focus on every possible minute negative about his performance before being withdrawn for Lallana on 82 minutes.
Daniel Sturridge – 3/10
I don’t remember seeing Sturridge ever perform worse than this in a Liverpool shirt. He had two or three fantastic opportunities to put the game to bed within the first half an hour, but constantly made the wrong choice by delaying his shot and taking too many extra touches before being crowded out. He also seems to be playing a bit too selfishly at the moment and needs to maintain a team mentality. A degree of rustiness is still to be expected but he’s had a month since returning from injury so an upturn in form should be expected as he continues to improve his match fitness. However, playing a full 105 minutes ahead of Sunday’s clash against Man City might prove unwise on Rodgers’ part.
Javier Manquillo – 5/10
Manquillo has been very much out of the picture recently, as the new system does not suit a defensive right back. He replaced Ibe after 75 minutes and was defensively sound, yet very limited going forwards and didn’t offer any extra attacking threat.
Adam Lallana – 6/10
Replacing Balotelli after 82 minutes, Lallana worked in behind Sterling and Sturridge and did his best to put in a shift for the team, but with Besiktas having the majority of possession, his ability to get on the ball and create chances was restricted. His penalty was dispatched with expertise into the top corner.
Rickie Lambert – N/A
Lambert replaced Sturridge for the last 15 minutes of extra time, during which he hardly had a touch of the ball, but his penalty was powered home with confidence.