Aurelio blames Liverpool players for Champions League exit

Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio maintains Liverpool's stars must shoulder the blame for the club's humiliating exit from the Champions League.

The versatile 30-year-old, back from a calf injury, played in midfield in Tuesday's 1-0 victory in Budapest against Hungarian champions Debrecen.

But the victory was in vain as Fiorentina's win over Lyon ensured Liverpool drop into the Europa League by finishing third in Group E.

Aurelio said: "The players still have confidence and we know that it is only us who can change our situation by working hard to improve.

"We know we can do better, certainly than we are doing at the moment.

"The team are now intent on winning at Everton on Sunday and starting to get more points right to the end of the season. Then we will see what position we are in, and what we are able to fight for.

"It is a big game next against Everton and a big opportunity to improve and regain the strength we need for a long season ahead."

Aurelio added: "It is difficult to explain how we feel. Being Liverpool, you expect to go much further in the competition than we have done this season.

"But now we cannot allow ourselves to dwell on what has happened, we must concentrate on the future to fight for a different title, the Europa League.

"We also have the challenge to do things better in the Premier League as well.

"It is difficult to know where this campaign has gone wrong, but against Lyon we lost goals in the last minutes of both games and that has made the difference.

"Liverpool used to be more solid in defence, and we have only scored four goals in five games in the group matches, so we have to improve in all areas.

"We have been missing a lot of players through injury problems, so we have to think that things can only improve in that situation.

"It is a big disappointment to be out of the Champions League, but we have to win a trophy. A big team like Liverpool must accept that.

"The Europa League is an opportunity to win a trophy and that's how we will go into this competition thinking. At Liverpool, every competition is important, we want to win trophies.

"We will have a great chance to get a trophy and we'll go for it, but there is still a long way go until May and we have to improve.

"In the Premier League we know we have to do better and we have a massive game at the weekend at Everton.

"It's the derby and we will try to do things properly and get the three points."

Liverpool are trying desperately to put a brave face on the situation.

Chief executive Christian Purslow insists manager Rafael Benitez's position is not under threat, while skipper Steven Gerrard has vowed that Liverpool will win the Europa League.

Purslow said: "You can never predict last-minute goals like we had twice against Lyon which have cost us dear in the Champions League. That's no basis to make managerial decisions.

"We don't run our business in that respect. I am on the record as saying Rafa has signed a new five-year contract, he is four months into that contract so to discuss that is not appropriate. He is under no threat."

Gerrard added: "Now we are in the Europa League so we must try to win that. The main prize has gone and to be playing in the Europa League is disappointing but we have to accept that, move on and try our best to win that competition."

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