Liverpool pay the penalty in Portugal

Braga 1 Liverpool 0

Liverpool failed in their attempts to equal a club record 14-match unbeaten run in Europe with a 1-0 defeat against Braga in their last-16 first-leg Europa League tie in Portugal.

The location of the AXA Stadium is no stranger to displays of hard labour, having been carved into the face of the former Monte Castro quarry.

But Kenny Dalglish's side were so devoid of movement at times they appeared to be taking inspiration from the huge chunks of rock still visible at one end of the unique ground.

They lacked pace and creativity without injured captain Steven Gerrard and the ineligible livewire forward Luis Suarez, who was instrumental in terrorising Manchester United in Sunday's 3-1 victory.

Even a European debut for £35million record signing Andy Carroll after half-time could not turn things around after Brazilian Alan had converted a 17th-minute penalty.

The omens were there from the start with a side featuring three defensive midfielders - albeit with Jay Spearing patrolling the right side of a 4-2-3-1 - which still never looked comfortable or particularly solid.

They spent much of the opening quarter of an hour chasing possession, although the hosts never came close to threatening Jose Reina's goal.

They were just getting into their stride, however, and in the 17th minute when Mossoro raced onto a through-ball to the right of the penalty area he was brought down by Sotirios Krygiakos' mis-timed tackle.

The spot-kick was expertly slotted away by the Brazilian, who must have one of the least exotically-sounding names of all his countrymen.

Raul Meireles was given a hard time by Braga fans on his return to his homeland, having moved to Anfield from nearby Porto.

He had a rare shooting opportunity from a 25-yard free-kick but drilled his effort into the wall.

Pressure was growing on Liverpool though and centre-back Kaka, almost lived up to the reputation of his more illustrious namesake when he attempted a cheeky shot from a narrow angle after taking a corner but drilled the ball into the side-netting.

Left-back Silvio went even closer with a thunderous 35-yard volley which beat Reina but rattled back off the crossbar.

The visitors were crying out for some creativity and pace to be injected and to that end all seven substitutes were sent out to warm-up during the interval.

Ten minutes after the restart Carroll was sent on for Christian Poulsen, with Spearing dropping back into central midfield and Meireles moving to the right.

His early involvement saw him head over Meireles' corner, although he was adjudged to have committed a foul in the act, and then had a shot deflected for a corner.

Carroll's arrival certainly livened things up, with Braga unable to handle his aerial power; Liverpool's problem was they were not proving him with decent enough crosses to threaten the hosts' goal.

When Meireles did whip one in from the right it was Dirk Kuyt who controlled it and volleyed over the crossbar.

The closing stages became increasingly scrappy as the Reds pushed for an equaliser.

Carroll continued to win headers with confident regularity but they were mostly in non-threatening positions from Reina's long punts up field, with absolutely no service coming from either flank with Cole cutting a particularly inconsequential figure.

Braga by no means look like a side who will pose a significant danger at Anfield in a week's time but Liverpool's greatest problems are of their own making.

They have scored once in five away matches in Europe this season. Their home record is much better, and they need it to be if they are to turn things around.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam