The much-maligned Ryan Babel had scored a wonderful goal with just seven minutes left and if Liverpool could have hung on to that lead they would still have had a realistic chance of reaching the last 16. But Liverpool's season has been littered with shattering luck and bitter body blows, as well as beach-ball goals.
And when Lisandro struck an equaliser in the final seconds for Lyon - sending them into the last 16 - Liverpool knew their own hopes were left hanging by a thread. Fiorentina's expected win over Debrecen keeps them firmly in second spot and Liverpool will need more than a miracle now after this devastating blow.
Fernando Torres forced a fine point-blank save from Hugo Lloris, and he was to deny Liverpool twice more before the break, touching the ball over the bar from Dirk Kuyt`s lobbed attempt and Andriy Voronin firing straight at him when clear on goal. Lloris made yet another stunning save after the break, turning away Lucas' effort with his left hand with Kuyt following up with an overhead shot that was kicked off the line.
The Reds grabbed a sensational goal after 83 minutes. Yossi Benayoun spun the ball out to the left for Babel, who cut inside to unleash a thunderous drive into the top corner from 30 yards, before being engulfed by his team-mates.
But with just seconds left, Liverpool's dream crashed. Lisandro got past Emiliano Insua in the box and lifted his shot over Pepe Reina for the equaliser.