Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Portugal’s Braga as Andy Carroll’s full debut failed to ignite Kenny Dalglish’s side in a goalless draw at Anfield.
Carroll, who cost a record 35 million pounds from Newcastle United in the January transfer window, played from the start for the first time but saw the Reds go out having lost the first leg 1-0 in Portugal.
It is a big disappointment for caretaker manager Dalglish, whose side are already out of the running in the English Premier League and out of the FA Cup.
Liverpool made a bright enough start with Joe Cole forcing Braga keeper Artur Moraes into a fine save after only eight minutes before Carroll’s follow-up effort was deflected for a corner.
The big striker also headed narrowly wide from a corner soon after and Liverpool had two shouts for a penalty inside a minute when first Carroll and then Lucas aimed optimistic looks towards referee Gianluca Rocchi.
But after that, Liverpool’s energy and creativity faded as they resorted to a stream of long balls aimed towards Carroll that made the game messy and lacking in quality.
Even in the second half with the Kop turning up the volume they struggled to create chances, Raul Meireles heading wide from a rare move of quality.
The arrival of striker David Ngog from the bench after 75 minutes livened things up, however, with Carroll denied in a goalmouth melee and Martin Skrtel’s effort well blocked by Moraes.
But the Reds, missing injured captain Steven Gerrard and cup-tied striker Luis Suarez, could not find a way through as Braga deservedly earned a goalless draw that sends them into the next stage.