Liverpool suffer Euro heartbreak

&bull; Reds&rsquo; victory rendered worthless by Fiorentina win<br />&bull; But under-fire boss Rafael Benitez assured his job is safe<br /><br /><strong>LIVERPOOL</strong> (1) Vs <strong>DEBRECEN</strong> (0)<br /><br />UNDER-FIRE Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez received the dreaded vote of confidence last night after the Reds lost out on a potential &pound;30m fortune by crashing out of the Champions League group stages.<br /><br />Benitez&rsquo;s men struggled to victory over Hungarian minnows Debrecen in Budapest but saw their European dream sink to its lowest ebb after Italian side Fiorentina beat group leaders Lyon by the same score.<br /><br />It means Liverpool must turn their attentions to the Europa League, but despite growing discontent from critics and supporters, the club&rsquo;s managing director Christian Purslow publicly backed the manager.<br /><br />&ldquo;You can never predict last-minute goals, which have cost us dear in the Champions League,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s no basis to make managerial decisions. I&rsquo;m on the record as saying Rafa&rsquo;s signed a new five-year contract, he&rsquo;s four months into that contract so to discuss that is not appropriate.&rdquo; It is estimated the cash-strapped Reds will lose as much as &pound;30m from their premature exit but Purslow added: &ldquo;Assuming we have a reasonable run in the Europa League then we are financially neutral for this year.&rdquo;<br /><br />Benitez also faces a battle to qualify for next season&rsquo;s Champions League, but the Spaniard insisted he would deliver. &ldquo;I am 100 per cent sure we will finish in the top four,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The team will play well when all the players are available so I am sure we will finish in the top four.&rdquo;<br /><br />Liverpool&rsquo;s night got off to the best possible start when Fabio Aurelio&rsquo;s fourth-minute cross was headed across goal by Jamie Carragher for David Ngog to scramble home. And although they never looked in any danger of relinquishing the lead, hopes of avoiding a first group stage exit since 2002-03 were dented when, over in Florence, a Juan Vargas penalty put Fiorentina ahead.<br /><br />Lyon tried, in vain, to give Benitez a lifeline, while Liverpool held on comfortably, but, despite his anguish at falling short, Reds captain Steven Gerrard offered fans a message of consolation. &ldquo;Of course it&rsquo;s disappointing, we played fantastically well tonight and despite getting three points we don&rsquo;t progress,&rdquo; Gerrard said. &ldquo;Now we&rsquo;ll be in the Europa League so we&rsquo;ll try to win that.&rdquo;