News Live Scores

Liverpool 1-0 Unirea Urziceni: Ngog Leaves It Late To Give Reds The Advantage

Liverpool 1-0 Unirea Urziceni: Line-up & stats
Europa League results/standings

As classic Anfield European nights go, this will not live long in the memory of the Reds faithful but Liverpool’s season continues to gather momentum as Rafa Benetiz men put one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League with a 1-0   victory over Unirea Urziceni.

Despite the victory the Reds struggled for 80 minutes against the resilient Romanian champions, but young Frenchman David Ngog stooped to head the winner following a Daniel Pacheco knockdown.

Rafa Benitez chose his strongest side available, dampening claims that the Spaniard was seeing this as a secondary competition to the Premier League. Jamie Carragher returned to the Liverpool starting line up after recovering from an abductor injury sustained against Arsenal.

The visitors hadn’t played a competitive game for two months due to the Romanian League winter break and Liverpool exposed their opponents lack of match practice inside 28 seconds. Dirk Kuyt cleverly picked out the on rushing Steven Gerrard who from twelve yards forced Gledruis Arlauskis into a smart save at his near post.

Roared on a by a boisterous Anfield crowd which was at full capacity, Liverpool continued to press in the early stages. Kuyt once again was at the heart of the move which saw his shot tipped wide by Arlauskis who was being kept unsurprisingly busy in the early stages. 

Despite an energetic start, the hosts dropped the tempo mid-way through the first period and despite dominating possession, rarely threatened the Unirea five-man backline. An influx of corners, ten in fact, came and went, with Arlauskis unorthodox punching method proving effective as Liverpool continued to waste dangerous attacking situations.

Ngog had a snap shot from the edge of the box which trickled wide just before the break but Liverpool continued to frustrate the home faithful with a lack of conviction in the final third.

The second period continued in the same vein as the first, with the Romanian champions lacking any attacking threat but comfortably dealing with Liverpool’s ineffective slow passing game. Gerrard summed up the first 60 minutes of football with an uncharacteristic wayward volley which flew high into the Kop end.

When Liverpool finally did break in behind the stubborn Unirea backline thanks to a defence splitting pass by Carragher, Kuyt’s final ball was admirably dealt with by Joao Bruno Fernandes, who was a rock at the heart of the visitors defence throughout the evening.

For the remaining 15 minutes, it was a case of attack versus defence as Unirea sunk deeper and deeper in order to deal with the more direct Liverpool approach, which now included Ryan Babel and Pacheco who had been brought on by Benitez on to boost the Reds' attacking play.

The two substitutes combined to great effect with ten minutes remaining to give Liverpool the all important lead. Babel, who had made an instant impact, delivered a deep cross that was knocked back across the goalmouth by Pacheco and Ngog was on hand to steer the ball home from no more than three yards. 

Unirea briefly rallied late on to try and grab an equalizer but their attempts were in vein as Liverpool held on to secure the victory.