Unirea Urziceni 1-3 Liverpool: Steven Gerrard Grabs Third In Comfortable Win For Liverpool

Reds easy winners in Bucharest...
Unirea Urziceni v Liverpool: line-up & stats
Europa League results/standings

Goals from Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard ensured Liverpool progressed to the next round of the Europa League after beating Unirea Urziceni 3-1 in Bucharest.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made two changes two his side that drew 0-0 with Man City at Eastlands on Sunday, bringing in Yossi Benayoun to replace cup-tied Maxi Rodriguez and young French striker David N’gog was given a start, replacing Dirk Kuyt.

It was the home side who had the first attempt, with Sorin Frunza seeing his shot from just outside the box fizz over the bar after Liverpool had failed to deal with an Unirea free-kick.

However Liverpool were quick to respond with captain Steven Gerrard forcing Unirea goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis to make a save.

Unirea grabbed the first goal of the evening when a Frunza corner found an unmarked Joao Bruno Fernandes who headed in from close-range to put the Romanian side level on aggregate.

Liverpool went on the offensive after conceding, with Steven Gerrard sending two dangerous free-kicks into the box, the first being saved by Arlauskis and the second being too high for N’gog at the back post.

With 25 minutes on the clock Unirea were forced to make their first substitution, bring off injured captain George Galamaz and replacing him with Ersin Mehmedovic.
After a period of Liverpool pressure the Unirea defence finally managed to clear their box only to see the ball fall to Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano who hit it from 25-yards out straight into the back of the home sides net, scoring his first goal in the competition and putting Liverpool back ahead on aggregate.
Liverpool kept up the pressure following on from Mascherano’s goal, with Gerrard forcing another save from Arlauskis in the Urziceni goal.

However ten minutes before half-time Unirea again upped the pressure on the Liverpool defence, seeing Argentine international Emiliano Insua nearly turn it into the back of his own net after a Frunza corner deflected off the young left-back and went narrowly wide if Pepe Reina’s goal.

But Liverpool were to have the last word in the first-half when the Unirea defence failed to deal with a Gerrard free-kick only to see out-of-favour Dutch winger Ryan Babel prod it in from close range, giving the reds a 2-1 lead going into a half time and a 3-1 lead on aggregate.

Unirea got the first chance of the second-half, when Iulian Apostol took a shot from inside of the six-yard box which went wide right of the goal.

With five minutes gone in the second-half Liverpool were awarded a free-kick just outside the box for a handball by Ion Sorin Paraschiv which was taken by Steven Gerrard who hit it towards Arlauskis’ right-hand bottom corner, forcing another save from the Unirea keeper.

Minutes later Urziceni made their second change of the night, taking off Paraschiv and bringing on Ricardo Vilana.
After latching on to a lay-off from Benayoun, Liverpool captain Gerrard found the back of the net, firing a shot into the bottom left-hand corner from just inside the box, giving the reds a 4-1 lead on aggregate.

Following on from the goal both sides made substitutions, with Liverpool bring on Martin Kelly to replace Jamie Carragher and Unirea opting for Antonio Semedo, bringing off Marius Onofras.

With 65 minutes gone Liverpool opted for their second substitution of the evening, bringing on Sotirios Kyrgiakos  to replace Martin Skrtel who looked to be injured.

Despite Liverpool looking in control Unirea continued to try and attack, leading to Maftei firing a harmless shot wide of Reina's goal.

With just 15 minutes remaining Liverpool made their thrid and final substitution of the night, bringing on Fabio Aurelio to replace Israeli captain Benayoun on the left.

Despite needing four goals to win the tie Unirea didn't stop pushing forward and Marius Bilasco nearly got a second for Unirea when his headed effort was cleared by Insua after Reina was forced to save with his feet.

But Liverpool weren't happy to sit back and defend their lead, in the last few minutes both Gerrard and Lucas Leiva had shots which challenged the Unirea keeper.

Liverpool will feel happy with the win in Bucharest and will go on to face Lille or Fenerbahce in the next round of the competition.

Unirea can take some comfort from their perfomance, especially during the first-half when they got an early goal and challenged Liverpool in all areas.