Liverpool clinched their place in the Europa League round of 32, coming from behind to beat Bordeaux 2-1 at Anfield.
The penultimate Group B fixture did not start as planned for Jurgen Klopp, with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet guilty of time wasting and Henri Saivet finding the top corner from the resultant indirect free-kick.
Liverpool were awarded a route back into the game when Christian Benteke – leading the line with Daniel Sturridge awaiting a scan on a foot injury picked up in training – went down in the box, James Milner slotting home from the penalty spot.
Benteke put Klopp’s team ahead with a fine finish in first-half stoppage time and Bordeaux’s push for an equaliser after the restart proved fruitless, eliminating them from the competition.
Ahead of kick-off, Bordeaux players held up a banner offering thanks for England’s show of solidarity with France in the recent international friendly meeting at Wembley, days after the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13.
Roberto Firmino – moved out to the left wing despite scoring in the 4-1 win over Manchester City on Saturday – was not hampered by his change of position, making two great runs in behind the Bordeaux defence inside the opening 10 minutes but failing to test Cedric Carrasso from either.
Mignolet almost gifted Bordeaux a goal in the 12th minute when he rushed off his line and headed the ball straight to Clement Chantome, but Kolo Toure bailed him out with an important block just outside the box.
Benteke was growing into the match and proving dangerous, but it was Willy Sagnol’s side who took the lead after 33 minutes.
Mignolet was penalised for taking over 20 seconds to release the ball, more than the regulation six, and the resulting indirect free-kick was dispatched into the top corner by Saivet after being teed up by Jaroslav Plasil.
Five minutes later, though, Liverpool were level, Milner sending Carrasso the wrong way from the penalty spot after Ludovic Sane was deemed to have fouled Benteke.
And Benteke ensured Klopp’s side went into the break ahead, holding off Cedric Yambere at the top of the box before tucking a shot into the back of the net from 18 yards.
The striker snatched at a chance to double his tally five minutes after the restart, blazing over following a cutback from Firmino, and had a goal ruled out for a push on Sane in the build-up soon after.
Jordon Ibe was denied by a good near-post save from Carrasso and Bordeaux were refused a penalty for a perceived handball by Benteke before the hour-mark.
Bordeaux began to enjoy more possession and came close to netting the goal which would have kept their slim hopes of progressing alive, but Mignolet parried Saivet’s free-kick in second-half stoppage time away from the target.
Liverpool will now face Sion in their final Group B outing with first place in the pool up for grabs.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!