NO need for comfort eating. Having jokingly put his expanding waistline down to the onset of stress caused by media questioning, Rafael Benitez can at least rest easy when approaching the bathroom scales over the next few days.

Twenty-four hours an unsettling grilling from Romanian reporters, Benitez saw his Liverpool side enjoy an easier time against the country’s champion club last night.

An eventually comfortable triumph against Unirea Urziceni sent the Anfield outfit into the last 16 of the Europa League and gave Benitez some welcome respite.

The last time Liverpool played at the Steaua Stadium in Bucharest, Djimi Traore was on the scoresheet. Thankfully, there was nothing as surprising during their latest visit.

Goals from Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard moved Benitez’s side a step nearer a May final in Hamburg by setting up a meeting with Lille in the next round.

And Gerrard’s strike ensured a personal landmark while helping Liverpool sidestep recording a piece of unwanted history.

It saw him surpass Alan Shearer as the leading British goalscorer in European competition with a 33rd strike, and meant Liverpool avoided a 30th successive game without scoring more than twice, a sequence they last suffered more than 40 years ago.

Not since the 6-1 thrashing of Hull City back in September 26 had Benitez’s side managed three goals in one match, and this was only the second time in 18 away games they had scored more than once.

The hardy 600 hundred or so Liverpool supporters who made the lengthy trip to Bucharest were rewarded with a performance that, while hardly vintage, finally delivered an end product after the shot-shy outings of recent weeks.

Unirea had threatened a surprise when Bruno Fernandes exposed some poor set-piece marking to head the home side into an 18th-minute lead.

But from the moment Mascherano’s away goal flew past Unirea goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis on the half-hour, the balance of the tie shifted inexorably in the direction of Benitez’s side.

The Champions League this most certainly isn’t. Liverpool know that better than anyone. But the Europa League represents their only chance of silverware this season and this victory would have sent a gentle reminder to their main rivals that the Anfield outfit won’t undermine this competition.

However, there was the significant downside of Martin Skrtel leaving on a stretcher midway through the second half with a suspected broken right foot sustained when making a 50-50 challenge with Unirea substitute Antonio Semedo.

It’s a bitter blow for the Slovakian, who has shown signs of forming a partnership with Daniel Agger at the heart of defence but may now face the remainder of the season on the sidelines.

With their own Tineretului stadium holding only 7,000 spectators, Unirea are playing their European home games 40 miles away at Steaua Bucharest’s 27,500-capacity venue.

Despite not being full, it made for a lively atmosphere in the stands although on the pitch a downpour throughout the afternoon left an already-rutted surface even trickier underfoot.

Read the article on Liverpool Daily Post

After questions over his weight Rafael Benitez is able to feast on banquet in Bucharest as Liverpool ease through in Europa League

NO need for comfort eating. Having jokingly put his expanding waistline down to the onset of stress caused by media questioning, Rafael Benitez can at least rest easy when approaching the bathroom scales over the next few days.

Twenty-four hours an unsettling grilling from Romanian reporters, Benitez saw his Liverpool side enjoy an easier time against the country’s champion club last night.

An eventually comfortable triumph against Unirea Urziceni sent the Anfield outfit into the last 16 of the Europa League and gave Benitez some welcome respite.

The last time Liverpool played at the Steaua Stadium in Bucharest, Djimi Traore was on the scoresheet. Thankfully, there was nothing as surprising during their latest visit.

Goals from Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard moved Benitez’s side a step nearer a May final in Hamburg by setting up a meeting with Lille in the next round.

And Gerrard’s strike ensured a personal landmark while helping Liverpool sidestep recording a piece of unwanted history.

It saw him surpass Alan Shearer as the leading British goalscorer in European competition with a 33rd strike, and meant Liverpool avoided a 30th successive game without scoring more than twice, a sequence they last suffered more than 40 years ago.

Not since the 6-1 thrashing of Hull City back in September 26 had Benitez’s side managed three goals in one match, and this was only the second time in 18 away games they had scored more than once.

The hardy 600 hundred or so Liverpool supporters who made the lengthy trip to Bucharest were rewarded with a performance that, while hardly vintage, finally delivered an end product after the shot-shy outings of recent weeks.

Unirea had threatened a surprise when Bruno Fernandes exposed some poor set-piece marking to head the home side into an 18th-minute lead.

But from the moment Mascherano’s away goal flew past Unirea goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis on the half-hour, the balance of the tie shifted inexorably in the direction of Benitez’s side.

The Champions League this most certainly isn’t. Liverpool know that better than anyone. But the Europa League represents their only chance of silverware this season and this victory would have sent a gentle reminder to their main rivals that the Anfield outfit won’t undermine this competition.

However, there was the significant downside of Martin Skrtel leaving on a stretcher midway through the second half with a suspected broken right foot sustained when making a 50-50 challenge with Unirea substitute Antonio Semedo.

It’s a bitter blow for the Slovakian, who has shown signs of forming a partnership with Daniel Agger at the heart of defence but may now face the remainder of the season on the sidelines.

With their own Tineretului stadium holding only 7,000 spectators, Unirea are playing their European home games 40 miles away at Steaua Bucharest’s 27,500-capacity venue.

Despite not being full, it made for a lively atmosphere in the stands although on the pitch a downpour throughout the afternoon left an already-rutted surface even trickier underfoot.

Read the article on Liverpool Daily Post

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