• Europa League round-up

L'pool top Europa group, Spurs qualify, Newcastle 2nd

ESPN staff
December 6, 2012
Udinese 0-1 Liverpool

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Liverpool's first European adventure under Brendan Rodgers will continue into the knockout stage of the Europa League after they beat Udinese in Italy, and they will be joined by Tottenham following their triumph over Panathinaikos. Newcastle, meanwhile, were already guaranteed a place in the last-32 but failed to qualify top after suffering defeat to Bordeaux.

Only a win over Udinese was enough to guarantee Liverpool a place in the last-32, with a draw leaving them at the mercy of Young Boys' result against Anzhi Makhachkala. In the end, the Reds proved masters of their own destiny - crucially so given that a draw would have seen them crash out - winning 1-0 at Stadio Friuli to top the group thanks to Jordan Henderson's goal.

Rodgers was without skipper Steven Gerrard, who was ill for their trip to Italy, but he did name Luis Suarez in a strong starting XI also featuring the likes of Joe Allen, Suso, and Jamie Carragher. That line-up then changed inside 13 minutes as Nuri Sahin went off with a bloodied nose, replaced by Jonjo Shelvey.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored Tottenham's first © PA Photos

The Italians enjoyed the best of the opening 20 minutes, Roberto Pereyra forcing Pepe Reina to tip over at full stretch with a curling effort. But they were then undone at a corner as Suso calmly laid Suarez's flick-on back to Henderson, who drilled home his first European goal.

Liverpool then thought they had doubled their lead when Stewart Downing and Suarez caused problems inside the left channel of the Udinese area, but Downing was offside when he crossed for Glen Johnson to tap home.

Udinese kept Reina honest through Diego Fabbrini's 20-yard effort, but Liverpool had another chance before the break as Jose Enrique failed to pick out either of Suarez or Suso after breaking in behind the home back four. Suarez then hit the bar with an overhead kick with the very final action of the half.

Glorious chances kept coming the way of the Merseysiders as Suso squandered a wonderful opening two minutes after the interval, slashing Suarez's pass wildly off target with his weaker foot. With Young Boys winning against Anzhi, Liverpool knew an Udinese equaliser would see them crash out of the competition.

Henderson tried to ease Liverpool nerves with a well-controlled volley that needed tipping over, and then Suarez drew an ever better save from the home keeper after tip-toeing his way past two defenders. Their plight was aided in the 80th minute by Giovanni Pasquale's dismissal for two bookings, but Liverpool still needed Antonio Di Natale to fire over with the last kick of the game.

Tottenham only needed a draw at home to Panathinaikos in order to advance to the next round, but Andre Villas-Boas had to do without hamstring victim Gareth Bale. Nevertheless, Spurs clinched a 3-1 victory courtesy of goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe, in addition to an own goal from Orestis Karnezis, to qualify along with Lazio from Group J.

Bordeaux 2-0 Newcastle

A subdued start to the game came to life on the half-hour when Adebayor strode onto Clint Dempsey's slide-rule pass to slot the ball underneath the goalkeeper. That appeared to have set up an easy night for Villas-Boas' men but they switched off in the second half and got punished as Zeca capitalised on the sleeping Kyle Naughton at the back post.

Panathinaikos forward Toche then fired agonisingly wide as Spurs nervily tried to cling on, and it needed a moment of fortune to swing the momentum as Dempsey's header came off the bar and bounced into the net off the visiting keeper. Defoe then produced a delightful dink to seal the victory with seven minutes left.

Newcastle were playing for top spot in Group D, which not only would have brought the potential for an easier draw but also guaranteed that the second leg of their last-32 tie would be played at home. However, Alan Pardew's men could not get the win they needed at Bordeaux, losing 2-0 in France.

Cheick Diabate handed Bordeaux a deserved lead when he headed Fahid Ben Khalfallah's cross past Rob Elliot in the 29th minute. Elliot was a busy man in the Newcastle goal and made three superb saves prior to half-time.

Pardew rested several of his main men, including Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse, and the hole left by Coloccini's absence was gaping as Bordeaux went route one for their second. Mike Williamson's pace was exposed as Diabate latched onto the ball, finding the net to kill the game off.

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