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Apr 4, 2007

Koeman left to pick up pieces after heavy loss

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands, Apr 4 (Reuters) - PSV Eindhoven coach Ronald Koeman faces a tough task to lift his players after the team's humiliating 3-0 home defeat against Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

Goals from Steven Gerrard, John Arne Riise and Peter Crouch underlined Liverpool's supremacy against the Dutch champions, who also lost Peruvian striker Jefferson Farfan with a hamstring injury.

'We have lost all our aspirations of reaching the semis,' captain Phillip Cocu told reporters.

'In the first half we were in the match and had our moments despite their opening goal, but after the break we were hardly a factor.

'In the Netherlands, squads are smaller compared to those of Liverpool or Arsenal (who PSV knocked out in the last round).'

Koeman was happy with his team's start against the 2005 champions but admitted that Gerrard's opener changed everything.

'Before the first goal we were well organised and gave up very few chances,' he said.

However, Koeman believed the absence of the injured defender Alex and striker Arouna Kone were key factors in his team's disappointing performance.

'Against Arsenal we had the strongest team and our opponents did not play their best,' he added.

'In the previous round we had some luck, but tonight be made some mistakes against an opponent who punished us.

'The absence of a target man up front makes it difficult, but it was also obvious that we missed Alex.'

PSV are now left to focus on the defence of their Dutch league title and a recent slump in form has allowed bitter rivals Ajax Amsterdam to make up ground.

The league leaders returned from the winter break with an 11 point advantage but their lead has been reduced to just three points with four matches remaining.

'We can't change anything about the injured players so we must keep trying our hardest to grind out results,' Koeman added.

'Every team goes through periods like this and now we have to forget about the Liverpool result and focus on Saturday,' Belgian international Timmy Simons added.

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