Europa League Liverpool 1 Ngog 81 Unirea Urziceni 0 A tough and frustrating night and not really the start we wanted in this competition. We now face a difficult second leg in Romania thanks to another typical Anfield away team “shut up shop” performance. However, no one should complain, plenty of teams have presented us with similar problems and we should be used to dealing with it by now. Rafa sent out a strong side with three changes from Arsenal. Aquilani, Riera and Aurelio returned. A more offensive side, a notable statement of intent and a message to the full house that, for now, he intends to take this competition seriously regardless of Sunday’s game at Eastlands. The Romanians were probably lacking match fitness due to a six week winter break and perhaps this is part of the reason they seemed to content to ease themselves back into competitive football by playing it safe and getting men behind the ball. This gave us plenty of possession but in harmless areas of the pitch. However we began positively with Gerrard going close and then again with header but as the Romanians tactics became apparent, the game settled into something more sedate. David Ngog, who was named as the only forward, cut an increasingly lonesome figure as Unirea constantly snuffed out his supply. Perhaps one way to find a way through would be via the flanks however, Reira also had a quiet time preferring to cut inside far to often as opposed to heading for the by line. Although we forced nearly a dozen corners we must have trooped off a half time thoroughly frustrated at our lack of ability to punch a hole through Unirea. The pressure we exerted was almost constant but not of the type that phased or panicked the Romanians. More up and at ‘em, throat ripping stuff was required as opposed to quiet coaxing? The second half suggested that we would be “treated” to more of the same. Gerrard, who was desperately trying to make things happen, had a header from Carragher’s cross. Aurelio finally produced a decent save from Arlauskis in the Unirea goal however, the Romanians remained stubborn and unyielding as we were forced to work the ball across their line trying to find a way through. When we did get through we couldn’t make it count. Srktel nearly scored with a header from Aurelio’s corner. Ngog and Gerrard had chances but there simply too many white shirts in the way. Then Rafa introduced Babel for Riera and Daniel Pacheco for Aquilani which raised the spirits. Minutes later Babel crossed for Pacheco. His nodded ball, down and across the face of the goal, found who Ngog saw it home. Patience, and youth, is its own reward and Rafa, brilliant tactician or what? Come on, he needs the praise! Hopes that Unirea might yield were realised slightly but sadly without any further end product. The nearest effort was from Gerrard who nearly produced a great long range goal thanks to a superb take and bring down No doubt Rafa and the team would have liked to make the long trip to Romania a few more goals to the good however, the opposition are no mugs and proved this tonight quickly shattering any illusions we might have about the difficulties, or lack of them, this competition might present us. However, at least we have something to protect and as a result Unirea in the second leg will need to show much more ambition than they did tonight. If they do that we might have more opportunities at the other end? Liverpool: Reina, Agger, Aurelio, Carragher, Skrtel, Aquilani (Pacheco 75), Gerrard, Riera (Babel 63), Mascherano, Kuyt, Ngog (Lucas 89) Substitutes Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Degen, Lucas, Babel, Pacheco Unirea Urziceni: Arlauskis, Galamaz, Brandan, Bruno Fernandes, Maftei, Paraschiv (Vilana 86), Paduretu (Rusescu 90), Frunza, Apostol, Bilasco, Onofras (Marinescu 75), Substitutes: Tudor, Mehmedovic, Nicu, Bordeanu, Vilana, Marinescu, Rusescu Att: 40,450
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Reds just edge it as defence stifles attack

Europa League Liverpool 1 Ngog 81 Unirea Urziceni 0 A tough and frustrating night and not really the start we wanted in this competition. We now face a difficult second leg in Romania thanks to another typical Anfield away team “shut up shop” performance. However, no one should complain, plenty of teams have presented us with similar problems and we should be used to dealing with it by now. Rafa sent out a strong side with three changes from Arsenal. Aquilani, Riera and Aurelio returned. A more offensive side, a notable statement of intent and a message to the full house that, for now, he intends to take this competition seriously regardless of Sunday’s game at Eastlands. The Romanians were probably lacking match fitness due to a six week winter break and perhaps this is part of the reason they seemed to content to ease themselves back into competitive football by playing it safe and getting men behind the ball. This gave us plenty of possession but in harmless areas of the pitch. However we began positively with Gerrard going close and then again with header but as the Romanians tactics became apparent, the game settled into something more sedate. David Ngog, who was named as the only forward, cut an increasingly lonesome figure as Unirea constantly snuffed out his supply. Perhaps one way to find a way through would be via the flanks however, Reira also had a quiet time preferring to cut inside far to often as opposed to heading for the by line. Although we forced nearly a dozen corners we must have trooped off a half time thoroughly frustrated at our lack of ability to punch a hole through Unirea. The pressure we exerted was almost constant but not of the type that phased or panicked the Romanians. More up and at ‘em, throat ripping stuff was required as opposed to quiet coaxing? The second half suggested that we would be “treated” to more of the same. Gerrard, who was desperately trying to make things happen, had a header from Carragher’s cross. Aurelio finally produced a decent save from Arlauskis in the Unirea goal however, the Romanians remained stubborn and unyielding as we were forced to work the ball across their line trying to find a way through. When we did get through we couldn’t make it count. Srktel nearly scored with a header from Aurelio’s corner. Ngog and Gerrard had chances but there simply too many white shirts in the way. Then Rafa introduced Babel for Riera and Daniel Pacheco for Aquilani which raised the spirits. Minutes later Babel crossed for Pacheco. His nodded ball, down and across the face of the goal, found who Ngog saw it home. Patience, and youth, is its own reward and Rafa, brilliant tactician or what? Come on, he needs the praise! Hopes that Unirea might yield were realised slightly but sadly without any further end product. The nearest effort was from Gerrard who nearly produced a great long range goal thanks to a superb take and bring down No doubt Rafa and the team would have liked to make the long trip to Romania a few more goals to the good however, the opposition are no mugs and proved this tonight quickly shattering any illusions we might have about the difficulties, or lack of them, this competition might present us. However, at least we have something to protect and as a result Unirea in the second leg will need to show much more ambition than they did tonight. If they do that we might have more opportunities at the other end? Liverpool: Reina, Agger, Aurelio, Carragher, Skrtel, Aquilani (Pacheco 75), Gerrard, Riera (Babel 63), Mascherano, Kuyt, Ngog (Lucas 89) Substitutes Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Degen, Lucas, Babel, Pacheco Unirea Urziceni: Arlauskis, Galamaz, Brandan, Bruno Fernandes, Maftei, Paraschiv (Vilana 86), Paduretu (Rusescu 90), Frunza, Apostol, Bilasco, Onofras (Marinescu 75), Substitutes: Tudor, Mehmedovic, Nicu, Bordeanu, Vilana, Marinescu, Rusescu Att: 40,450
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