Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages took a hit on Thursday with a 1-0 defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala.
Guus Hiddink’s money-rich Russian outfit took advantage of Brendan Rodgers’ largely inexperienced line-up with Ivorian striker Lacina Traore producing a moment of magic on the stroke of half-time.
Jordan Henderson spurned Liverpool’s best chance at the Stadion Lokomotiv as Rodgers made nine changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday.
Anzhi lead Group A with seven points from Liverpool on six, while Udinese are third with four despite a 3-2 loss to Young Boys (three points).
Alan Pardew’s Newcastle fought back from two goals down to rescue a point at Club Brugges with second-half goals from Vurnon Anita and Shola Ameobi.
The Belgian side went ahead through efforts from Ivan Trickovski and Jesper Jorgensen but nearly dropped all three points when Yohan Cabaye’s late free-kick hit the bar.
Newcastle lead Group D with eight points from Bordeaux (seven), who defeated Portugal’s Maritimo 1-0, Club Brugge (four) and Maritimo (two).
Holders Atletico Madrid slumped to their first defeat of this year’s tournament, going down 2-0 to Academica courtesy of a pair of strikes from Wilson Eduardo.
The La Liga side can qualify with one more win from their remaining two games to join undefeated Czech side Viktoria Plzen in the next phase after they trounced Hapoel Tel Aviv 4-0 in the other Group B clash.
Edinson Cavani produced a staggering individual display with all four goals in Napoli’s 4-2 win over Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
The Ukrainian side still top the group with nine points from Napoli on six and Swedish side AIK after they downed PSV 1-0.
In Group C, Turkey’s Fenerbahce top the table with 10 points after a third straight win over AEL 2-0, while Borussia Moenchengladbach are locked on five points with Marseille after the sides played out a 2-2 draw.
Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest took command of Group E with a 2-1 win at Norwegian side Molde while Germany’s Stuttgart moved up to second in the group with a 2-0 win at Copenhagen.
More to follow