UNIREA URZICENI (1) v/s LIVERPOOL (3)
LIVERPOOL boss Rafael Benitez hailed his side’s resilience after they came back from an early scare to set up a last 16 tie against Lille.
Unirea levelled the tie on aggregate with a Joao Bruno Fernandes header after 18 minutes but the Reds hit back through Javier Mascherano, before Ryan Babel and then Steven Gerrard snuffed out the Romanians.
“We showed character. It was a difficult game because of the pitch. We needed to be calm and do the job properly,” said Benitez.
“They were dangerous at set-pieces. I think once we scored a goal everything was easier and the second and third goals made things better.”
A result that keeps alive Liverpool’s hopes of silverware this season was soured by an injury to Martin Skrtel, with Benitez adding he feared the Slovakian had broken his foot.
The Spaniard has come under fire for using zonal marking and the system failed again when Fernandes headed home unchallenged from a corner.
Mascherano responded 11 minutes later, however, when the ball fell to him 25 yards out and he lashed it into the net first time.
Babel increased Liverpool’s lead just before half-time, finishing from close range after deftly controlling Gerrard’s right-wing free-kick.
A low shot from Gerrard after good work from Yossi Benayoun sealed the win and saw the skipper eclipse Alan Shearer as Britain’s all-time leading scorer in Europe, with 33 goals.