Reds leave it late to progress in Europa

Liverpool left it late to overcome Turkish side Tranbzonspor in their final Europa League qualifier on Thursday night.

The Reds, leading 1-0 from the home leg last week at Anfield, went behind after just 4 minutes when Gutierrez scored from close range after Dirk Kuyt had given the ball away to allow Tranbzon in. It looked like that goal was going to send the game into extra time and the possibility of penalties until the 84th minute when Glen Johnson’s run forced Kacar into scoring an own goal.

And Dirk Kuyt made the result safe in the 88th minute, following up after the Trabzon keeper had parried Joe Cole’s shot from the edge of the box.

Roy Hodgson, without rested and injured players including Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Milan Jovanovic and Daniel Agger, gave Christian Poulsen a start in midfield and Joe Cole returned from domestic suspension.

David Ngog lead the attack and should have scored from Cole’s cross in the first half, and did well to almost level with a low shot after good work on the edge of the box.

The Reds improved in the second half but it was substitute Dani Pacheco who was particularly instrumental in the comeback, playing a 15 minute cameo he injected much needed tempo and creativity into the midfield.

The performance was hardly vintage but given the circumstances and the lack of options available to Hodgson, the Reds boss will be very happy to have progressed and not risked any of his star names. Attention will now turn to getting an all important first win of the Premier League campaign against West Brom on Sunday afternoon.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Kelly, Kuyt, Lucas, Poulsen (Skrtel 91), Aurelio (Pacheco 77), Cole, Ngog (Babel, 86).
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Spearing, Shelvey, Eccleston.