Liverpool, Ajax make embarrassing exits

Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at home in their last-16 second-leg by modest Portuguese side Braga, who have never even won a domestic league title, and went out 1-0 on aggregate. Ajax, knocked out of the Champions League earlier this season, were outclassed 3-0 in Russia by Spartak Moscow for a 4-0 aggregate defeat in Europe's second string competition.

Manchester City beat Dynamo Kiev 1-0 despite having Mario Balotelli sent off in the first half but still lost 2-1 on aggregate while a 1-0 home defeat for Rangers against PSV Eindhoven ended British interest. Braga were one of three Portuguese sides to make the last eight, with Benfica and Porto also going through, while Twente Enschede and Villarreal completed the quarterfinal lineup.

Liverpool made a bright start at Anfield but faltered against a strong Braga defence, failing to create many chances. They are now in danger of missing out altogether on European football next season.

In Moscow Alex Meschini, a Libertadores Cup winner with Internacional in 2006, inspired Spartak, setting up the first goal for Dmitri Kombarov and curling in a freekick for the third after halftime. Fellow Brazilian Welliton got the other goal.

Villareal's 2-1 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen gave them a 5-3 aggregate victory ending German interest in the competition.

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