Downing strike secures first leg lead for LFC

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FC Gomel 0-1 Liverpool
Europa League Third Round Qualifier, First Leg; Thursday August 2nd 2012

Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive game as Liverpool manager ended in a 1-0 victory courtesy of Stewart Downing’s second-half strike.

Downing cut inside from the right to fire past the keeper from outside the box on 65 minutes. It proved the only goal of an unconvincing performance for Rodgers’ new side.

Jamie Carragher captained the Reds to mark his 700th appearance, while Fabio Borini made his competitive debut for the club at the other end.

Showing a lack of attacking depth, the Liverpool squad featured no other forwards. Andy Carroll remaining on Merseyside amid reports that he is set to leave the club, but with the official word that he has a slight injury.

The Belarusan side had much the better of the first half, causing the Liverpool defence numerous problems and goalkeeper Brad Jones being called upon several times. In midfield, Steven Gerrard was wasteful in possession countless times.

Joe Cole picked up a hamstring injury after just 15 minutes and was later replaced by youngster Raheem Sterling in the left attacker role.

Before Downing’s goal, the closest we had got to seeing a goal was when Gomel hit the post in the 65th minute.

In a contrast to last season, where Liverpool created chance after chance but failed to put them away, the Reds struggled to create any chances of note and Borini barely had a sniff at goal until the last minute where he was put through one on one but the keeper saved.

Where last season we played well but lost or drew, tonight we played poor but won.

The return leg takes place at Anfield next Thursday. Rodgers will have Luis Suarez available.

Watch the goal:

Liverpool (4-3-3): Jones; Johnson (Kelly 45), Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique; Spearing, Henderson (Lucas 65), Gerrard; Cole (Sterling 23), Borini, Downing.
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Robinson, Adam, Shelvey.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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