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Liverpool’s failure to beat Basle at Anfield, not last night’s 3-3 draw in Switzerland, is the principal reason for their embarrassing exit from the Champions League, according to the Anfield manager Gerard Houllier.

Houllier said: “I believe we are out of Europe because of what happened in the first game at home. They got a draw, but were very lucky not to have lost because we had so many chances.”

In Basle, the Premiership leaders were 3-0 down within the opening thirty minutes. But they fought back in the second half with goals from Danny Murphy, Vladimir Smicer before Michael Owen equalised in the 85th minute.

Houllierfelt the half-time scoreline to be a harsh reflection on his side’s performance.

“We had chances ourselves while they put awayall three of theirs. We could and should have stopped those first half goals, certainly the first two”, he lamented.

Despite the defeat Houllier was satisfied with his side’s second half display.

He said: “At half-time I told them to go out and show their pride, score one and see what happens. When we equalised I thought there would be only one winner.”

Liverpool now have to content themselves with a UEFA cup place, while Basle become the first Swiss side to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

‘We will be back, we are disappointed but our heads are not down,’ added the Liverpool boss.

Basle coach, Christian Gross, was delighted with the result.

“I have never experienced a first half like that when we were outstanding”, he said.

The former Tottenham manager concluded: “I am very happy for my players, it was tense, but we played so well we deserved it.”

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