Unirea Urziceni

1

Bruno Fernandes 18

Liverpool

3

Mascherano 29 Babel 40 Gerrard 57
(HT 1 - 2)
Kickoff: 18:00
Att: 25000
Reds rally to secure last 16 spot
Liverpool came from behind to beat Unirea Urziceni 3-1 in Romania and book their place in the Europa League last 16 with a 4-1 aggregate win.
 
Macherano: Celebrates his fine strike
Macherano: Celebrates his fine strike
 

Unirea Urziceni

yellow card 1 Arlauskis
  23 Bordeanu
  25 Paduretu
  30 Frunza
yellow card 11 Onofras *** (62)
  7 Bilasco
  22 Paraschiv ** (56)
  24 Maftei
  32 Apostol
  21 Galamaz * (27)
yellow card 2 Bruno Fernandes

On The Bench

  12 Tudor
  16 Nicu
  4 Mehmedovic *
  18 Vilana **
  20 Marinescu
  18 Rusescu
  16 Semedo ***

Liverpool

  25 Reina
  22 Insua
  5 Agger
  23 Carragher * (61)
  37 Skrtel ** (66)
  8 Gerrard
  21 Lucas
yellow card 20 Mascherano
  24 Ngog
yellow card 19 Babel
  15 Benayoun *** (77)

On The Bench

  1 Cavalieri
  34 Kelly *
  16 Kyrgiakos **
  12 Aurelio ***
  4 Aquilani
  18 Kuyt
  9 Torres

Liverpool fell behind to Bruno Fernandes' header in the 19th minute and for a while they looked rattled.

However, a Javier Mascherano screamer and close-range effort from Ryan Babel turned things around before the interval, with Steven Gerrard's 33rd European goal wrapping things up after the break.

It was the first time since the 6-1 win over Hull in September that Liverpool had scored more than twice in a game, a run of 29 matches.

A year ago to the day they beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Bernabeu on the way to a 5-0 aggregate win before their eventual Champions League quarter-final defeat by Chelsea.

But their early struggles in the Steaua Stadium showed just how far the club's fortunes have plummeted in 12 months as Unirea created a number of chances, mainly from free-kicks and corners, which the visitors regularly failed to deal with.

The first example of that came in only the second minute when Jamie Carragher's header from Iulian Apostol's free-kick only reached the edge of the penalty area and Sorin Frunza lashed a dipping volley onto the top of Jose Reina's net.

Less than 60 seconds later, Lucas Leiva picked out Gerrard with a through-ball but the midfielder's fierce low drive was parried into the air by goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.

Liverpool were retaining possession for long periods without really hurting their opponents and it was to cost them as, in the 19th minute, Unirea levelled the tie on aggregate.

Daniel Agger's last-ditch tackle on Marius Onofras gave the hosts a corner from the left and Razvan Paduretu's inviting delivery was perfect for centre-back Fernandes to power home a header virtually unchallenged.

Nine minutes after, George Galamaz's foul on Martin Skrtel resulted in the Unirea captain coming off worst and, despite trying to run off his injury, he was replaced by Ersin Mehmedovic.

Then on the half-hour mark Liverpool seized control of the tie from the most unlikely of sources.

Yossi Benayoun and David Ngog combined to allow Carragher to cross and, although Babel mis-controlled Gerrard's far post header with only the goalkeeper to the beat, the ball broke to Mascherano outside the penalty area to brilliantly lash a shot past Arlauskis.

However, the Reds almost handed the initiative straight back to Unirea in the 36th minute when Paduretu's inswinging corner caused chaos in the six-yard area, hitting Agger but bouncing inches wide.

Paduretu then had Reina diving to his right to tip around the post with a 25-yard effort but Liverpool gave themselves the cushion they desperately needed five minutes before half-time when Gerrard swung in a free-kick from the right and Babel took one touch before swivelling to fire home from close range.

Liverpool picked up at the start of the second half and Gerrard fired wide of Arlauskis' right-hand post before forcing him into a low save on the same side soon after.

And if there was any doubt about Unirea staging an unlikely comeback, it was snuffed out by Gerrard in the 57th minute.

Babel broke down the left, moving the ball to Lucas and he picked out Benayoun, whose mazy dribble into the area was only half-stopped, allowing Gerrard to run onto the loose ball and blast a low shot under Arlauskis.

That strike was his 33rd in Europe, taking him past Alan Shearer, who scored 30 for Newcastle and two for Blackburn.

That prompted the introduction of youngster Martin Kelly for Carragher at right-back and, almost immediately, Sotirios Kyrgiakos after Unirea substitute Antonio Semedo caught Skrtel in a challenge.

With thoughts turning to Sunda's Premier League clash with Blackburn, Rafael Benitez also replaced Benayoun with Fabio Aurelio for the final 15 minutes.

Emiliano Insua's late intervention poked the ball off the toe of Paduretu just as he was about to pull the trigger in the six-yard area but otherwise there were no other scares.

But their first-half defensive lapses will not have gone unnoticed by Rovers boss Sam Allardyce ahead of his side's visit to Anfield.

Much greater challenges lie ahead for Benitez and his Liverpool team.

Today's other Europa League matches.
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0 - 0 Rubin Kazan
      Att: 12000
Anderlecht 4 - 0 Athletic Bilbao
Lukaku 4 San Jose 27(og) Boussoufa 50 Legear 68     Att: 24000
Marseille 3 - 1 FC Copenhagen
Ben Arfa 43 Kone 61,77   Almeida 86 Att: 15000
Roma 2 - 3 Panathinaikos
Riise 11 De Rossi 67   Cisse 40(pen),45 Ninis 43 Katsouranis s/o 90 Att: 50000
Galatasaray 1 - 2 Atletico Madrid
Keita 66 Erkin s/o 82   Simao 63 Forlan 90 Att: 22000
Juventus 0 - 0 Ajax
      Att: 16441
Valencia 3 - 0 Club Brugge
Mata 1 Pablo 117,97     Att: 45000
Shakhtar Donetsk 1 - 1 Fulham Report
Jadson 69   Hangeland 33 Murphy s/o 90 Att: 47509
PSV 3 - 2 Hamburg
Toivonen 2 Dzsudzsak 43 Koevermans 90 Dzsudzsak s/o 57   Petric 46 Trochowski 79(pen) Demel s/o 74 Att: 30500
Wolfsburg 4 - 1 Villarreal
Dzeko 9 Angel 14(og) Gentner 41 Grafite 64   Capdevila 30 Att: 17000
SV Red Bull Salzburg 0 - 0 Standard Liege
      Att: 26500
Werder Bremen 4 - 1 FC Twente
Pizarro 15,20,58 Naldo 27   de Jong 33 Att: 20963
Fenerbahce 1 - 1 Lille
Belozoglu 34   Rami 86 Att: 48000
Sporting 3 - 0 Everton Report
Veloso 64 Mendes 77 Fernandez 90     Att: 17609



Team News:

greek scouser : "...Well it was good to see the lads win and it was especially good to see us play 4-4-2 with Gerrard as a central midfield playmaker and hey presto, he ran the show with lovely passing and what a lovely dink of a finish fro..."   view full comment

Paper Talk: Blues fancy Reina swoop

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