Liverpool drew 0-0 away to FC Augsburg in the Europa League last-32 on Thursday evening, with the Reds favourites to progress going into next week’s second-leg.
FC Augsburg 0-0 Liverpool
Europa League – WWK Arena – Thursday 18th February 2016
Jurgen Klopp showed exactly how seriously he is taking the competition, as he named exactly the same starting eleven that beat Aston Villa 6-0 on Sunday.
Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge once again started in attack, while Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho were the preferred centre-back pairing.
This was the biggest match in Augsburg’s history, and a potentially tricky night lay in store for Liverpool.
It was a low-key, scrappy opening 20 minutes to the game, with Firmino’s scuffed shot the only moment of note. Sturridge also nearly pounced, but the ball got away from the 26-year-old.
Augsburg striker Raul Bobadilla had to be replaced by Caiuby midway through the first-half, which was a blow to the hosts.
The match continued to be something of a non-event, but considering Liverpool were the visitors, they were easily the more content of the two teams.
Sturridge’s long-range shot deflected wide of the target, while Jordan Henderson’s tame shot went straight into the hands of Marwin Hitz.
Dominik Kohr shot wide after slopp work from Emre Can, while Alexander Esswein forced Simon Mignolet into a decent stop.
That was pretty much that in the opening 45 minutes, and as a contest, it really could only get better after the interval. The Reds had very much played within themselves.
There were no changes at half-time, with a much-needed injection needed in the second-half.
A fluent move involving Coutinho and Alberto Moreno led to the Brazilian poking wide, while Sturridge missed a glorious chance to open the scoring after nice work from James Milner.
Markus Feulner shot wide for Augsburg, as the match finally sprang into life. Paul Verhaegh almost diverted into his own net.
Sturridge, who looked a little rusty all evening, was replaced by Divock Origi in the 68th minute. Could Liverpool nick a win?
Moreno’s 30-yard shot almost crept past Hitz, eventually spinning wide for a corner, while Henderson volleyed over the crossbar.
Kostas Stafylidis almost pounced at the other end, following slack Liverpool marking, and substitute Ji hit the post with four minutes remaining.
A very poor match ended in stalemate, and Liverpool will go into the second-leg at Anfield as firm favourites to progress to the last-16. The Reds were solid but unspectacular.
TIA Man of the Match: Kolo Toure
FC Augsburg: Hitz, Verhaegh, Janker, Klavan, Stafylidis, Esswein, Kohr, Feulner, Altintop (Koo 87′), Werner (Ji 80′), Bobadilla (Caiuby 23′).
Subs not used: Gelios, Opare, Max, Thommy.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Toure, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Can, Milner (Ibe 80′), Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge (Origi 68′).
Subs not used: Ward, Randall, Caulker, Lucas, Benteke.
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalan (Spain)
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