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Europa League

Stadionul Ghencea (ATT 20,000) 2nd December 2010 - Kick off 18:00 Ref: Bulent Yildirim

S Bucuresti FC Steaua Bucuresti vs Liverpool Liverpool

S Bucuresti 1

Eder Bonfim (61)

ft

Liverpool 1

M Jovanovic (19)

Job done for Reds in Romania

Hodgson's gamble pays off as Liverpool qualify for knock-outs

By Elliot Ball.   Last Updated: 02/12/10 8:43pm

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Jovanovic: Headed Reds ahead after good play by Babel

Jovanovic: Headed Reds ahead after good play by Babel

Liverpool have reached the last 32 of the Europa League after playing out a 1-1 draw against Steaua Bucuresti.

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The Reds required a draw at the Stadionul Ghencea on Thursday to progress in the competition and Milan Jovanovic put them on their way with a bullet header on 19 minutes from Ryan Babel's cross.

Roy Hodgson's much-changed side were looking good for three points heading into the break but a Jose Reina blunder just after the hour mark allowed Eder Bonfim to grab Steaua a deserved equaliser.

The result assures Liverpool's safe passage into the knock-out phase as Group K winners and Steaua also boosted their hopes with the stalemate and remain in second place ahead of FC Utrecht and Napoli, who played out a 3-3 draw.

Faith

Reds boss Hodgson put his faith in fringe players and reserves having travelled to eastern Europe without eight first-teamers, only three of whom were injured, and he was rewarded by the likes of Jovanovic and Babel.

Neither has made much of an impression to date in their Anfield careers, although Jovanovic admittedly has only had a little more than four months to settle in.

However, they both did a decent enough job on a night when they could easily have gone missing again.

The same could not be said of Joe Cole, returning from a five-week lay-off with a hamstring injury.

Hodgson had admitted before the game the England international was low on confidence after a suspension and injury-interrupted start to his Liverpool career and that showed in his performance.

Despite playing in his supposedly favourite position behind the striker Cole cut a peripheral figure and was unable to affect the game in any way before he was replaced 15 minutes from time by David Ngog.

Unremarkable

The opening exchanges were unremarkable except for plenty of non-harmful Steaua possession and Reina, captaining the side in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, being targeted by a fan with a laser pen.

It was the second occasion this season the Spain international has had to contend with the irritation, the first coming in their Europa League play-off against Trabzonspor in August.

A complaint to Turkish referee Bulent Yildirim and a stadium announcement thankfully appeared to halt the offender.

By that time, however, Steaua should have been ahead but Eric Bicfalvi headed over left-back Lasmin Latovlevici's cross from eight yards.

It proved to be a costly miss as Liverpool took the lead with their first chance in the 19th minute.

Jovanovic, whose only previous significant contribution since joining in the summer was to score in the ill-fated Carling Cup exit to Northampton, started and finished the move.

The Serbia international, who has been linked with a move back to former club Standard Liege despite only leaving in the summer, worked the ball out to Babel on the right.

When the Dutchman crossed to the far post Jovanovic headed home and celebrated by kissing the badge on his shirt, pointing at the handful of travelling Liverpool fans and then the floor - intimating that he wanted to stay at Anfield.

Objective

Babel almost had a hand in creating a second goal but his pass which picked out Cole on the penalty spot was mis-controlled and Daniel Pacheco eventually bundled a shot wide from the edge of the area.

But Liverpool had a lucky escape in the dying seconds of the first half when in-form striker Bogdan Stancu, scorer of 12 goals in 17 league appearances, somehow stabbed wide from eight yards when it seemed easier to score.

Early in the second half Reina saved low from Geraldo Alves' header and tipped Stancu's shot, which looped up off Fabio Aurelio, over the crossbar.

The Steaua striker played a significant part without actually touching the ball in the home side's 61st-minute equaliser.

Stancu was positioned in front of Reina - played onside by Danny Wilson - when Eder Bonfim launched his header but the goalkeeper, distracted by his opponent's presence, allowed the ball to squirm out of his grasp, through his legs and over the line.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos powered a header at the crossbar and over from Aurelio's corner as the visitors responded.

But ultimately Liverpool were happy to hang on for a third point in as many Group K away matches, maintaining their unbeaten run in Europe this season, and that was enough to achieve their objective.

Steaua BucharestTeam StatisticsLiverpool
1Goals1
01st Half Goals1
4Shots on Target1
12Shots off Target4
4Blocked Shots0
10Corners4
8Fouls9
2Offsides5
3Yellow Cards0
0Red Cards0
85.2Passing Success75.2
16Tackles15
87.5Tackles Success80
64.6Possession35.4
52.9Territorial Advantage47.1

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Tables

Europa League Group A

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Apollon Limassol 0 0
2 Borussia Monchengladbach 0 0
3 FC Zurich 0 0
4 Villarreal 0 0

Europa League Group B

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Club Brugge 0 0
2 FC Copenhagen 0 0
3 HJK Helsinki 0 0
4 Torino 0 0

Europa League Group C

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Asteras Tripoli 0 0
2 Besiktas 0 0
3 Partizan Belgrade 0 0
4 Tottenham Hotspur 0 0

Europa League Group D

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Celtic 0 0
2 Dinamo Zagreb 0 0
3 FC Astra Ploiesti 0 0
4 Red Bull Salzburg 0 0

Europa League Group E

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Dynamo Moscow 0 0
2 Estoril 0 0
3 PSV Eindhoven 0 0
4 Panathinaikos 0 0

Europa League Group F

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Dnipro 0 0
2 Karabakh-Azersun 0 0
3 Inter Milan 0 0
4 St Etienne 0 0

Europa League Group G

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Feyenoord 0 0
2 Rijeka 0 0
3 Sevilla 0 0
4 Standard Liege 0 0

Europa League Group H

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Everton 0 0
2 Krasnodar 0 0
3 Lille 0 0
4 Wolfsburg 0 0

Europa League Group I

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Napoli 0 0
2 SK Slovan Bratislava 0 0
3 Sparta Prague 0 0
4 BSC Young Boys Bern 0 0

Europa League Group J

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Aalborg BK 0 0
2 Dynamo Kiev 0 0
3 Rio Ave 0 0
4 FC Steaua Bucuresti 0 0

Europa League Group K

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Dinamo Minsk 0 0
2 Fiorentina 0 0
3 Guingamp 0 0
4 PAOK Salonika 0 0

Europa League Group L

Europa League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Metalist Kharkiv 0 0
2 Legia Warsaw 0 0
3 Lokeren SNW 0 0
4 Trabzonspor 0 0

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