Arsenal recovered from their recent defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United with victory over Liverpool at the Emirates.

Liverpool struggled to justify their billing as Europa League favourites, needing an 81st minute David Ngog goal to beat Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni in the home leg of their last-32 clash.

Unirea were supposed to be Europa no-hopers compared to the Mersey giants – they have a home capacity of just 7,000 and their domestic league is currently taking a winter break.

But they did perform respectably in the Champions League group stage, beating Rangers 4-1 before (like Liverpool) being dumped out of the competition and entering the Europa League by the backdoor.

Liverpool began at a high tempo and nearly scored in the opening minute, a first-time shot from Steven Gerrard on the corner of the six-yard box forcing a smart save from Unirea keeper Giedrius Arlauskis.

Dirk Kuyt also went close from a similar angle in the tenth minute and Ngog nearly snatched a first-half lead; swivelling and getting a low shot on target after pouncing on a bouncing ball in the Unirea penalty area.

On the hour mark Aurelio hit a fierce left-footed shot from inside the penalty area semi-circle which bounced just once before Arlauskis scrambled a hand to the ball.

Unirea did at last begin to show signs of shaking off the effects of their winter hibernation – some quick passing helping them to reach the Liverpool penalty area often enough to give them some respite from the pressure their hosts were applying.

But still Liverpool pressed: Martin Skrtel going close with a header, Gerrard raising hopes with a chipped shot and substitute Babel dribbling with purpose and having a penalty appeal turned down as the clock ticked down.

The breakthrough came in the 79th minute; Babel crossing from deep, his fellow substitute Daniel Pachecho heading the ball down into the Anfield turf and David Ngog nodding the bouncing ball into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Liverpool might have taken a two-goal cushion to Romania – Gerrard hit a superb mid-range effort just wide and Javier Mashcerano deserved a penalty after being brought down in the box.

Read the article on InTheNews.co.uk

Liverpool 1-0 Unirea Urziceni

Arsenal recovered from their recent defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United with victory over Liverpool at the Emirates.

Liverpool struggled to justify their billing as Europa League favourites, needing an 81st minute David Ngog goal to beat Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni in the home leg of their last-32 clash.

Unirea were supposed to be Europa no-hopers compared to the Mersey giants – they have a home capacity of just 7,000 and their domestic league is currently taking a winter break.

But they did perform respectably in the Champions League group stage, beating Rangers 4-1 before (like Liverpool) being dumped out of the competition and entering the Europa League by the backdoor.

Liverpool began at a high tempo and nearly scored in the opening minute, a first-time shot from Steven Gerrard on the corner of the six-yard box forcing a smart save from Unirea keeper Giedrius Arlauskis.

Dirk Kuyt also went close from a similar angle in the tenth minute and Ngog nearly snatched a first-half lead; swivelling and getting a low shot on target after pouncing on a bouncing ball in the Unirea penalty area.

On the hour mark Aurelio hit a fierce left-footed shot from inside the penalty area semi-circle which bounced just once before Arlauskis scrambled a hand to the ball.

Unirea did at last begin to show signs of shaking off the effects of their winter hibernation – some quick passing helping them to reach the Liverpool penalty area often enough to give them some respite from the pressure their hosts were applying.

But still Liverpool pressed: Martin Skrtel going close with a header, Gerrard raising hopes with a chipped shot and substitute Babel dribbling with purpose and having a penalty appeal turned down as the clock ticked down.

The breakthrough came in the 79th minute; Babel crossing from deep, his fellow substitute Daniel Pachecho heading the ball down into the Anfield turf and David Ngog nodding the bouncing ball into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Liverpool might have taken a two-goal cushion to Romania – Gerrard hit a superb mid-range effort just wide and Javier Mashcerano deserved a penalty after being brought down in the box.

Read the article on InTheNews.co.uk

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