Reina and Reds get off the hook
Liverpool 1 Hearts 1 (agg 2-1): Luis Suarez spared goalkeeper Jose Reina’s blushes — and some of his own — with the late goal that fired the Reds into the Europa League group stage at the expense of Hearts.
Brendan Rodgers’ side dominated the second leg of their qualifying round play-off at Anfield but were punished for not adding to their 1-0 aggregate lead when Reina let a David Templeton shot squeeze through late on.
With extra time looming, Liverpool rallied and Suarez made amends for missing two earlier chances with a fine run and finish in the 88th minute for a 2-1 aggregate win.
Liverpool’s Stewart Downing, who played his first game at left-back for the club, admitted it was the familiar story for the homeside.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” he said on ESPN. “We made more hard work of it than we should have done. We were a little bit wasteful in front of goal.
“However, the manager stressed to the team ‘don’t go down under pressure’, and I think we bounced back well. We created lots of chances we didn’t finish though and we have to be more clinical in front of goal. That was a lesson for us.”
Haris Vuckic’s first senior Newcastlegoal was enough to send the Magpies through at St James's Park.
The 20-year-old Slovenia international struck 21 minutes into the second leg of the club’s play-off clash with Greek side Atromitos to seal a 2-1 aggregate victory.
However, although Alan Pardew’s men dominated on the night, they were unable to kill the tie off before the final whistle and enjoyed a major escape when goalkeeper Tim Krul appeared to foul Chumbinho in the box two minutes before the break, only for the Brazilian midfielder to pick up a booking for diving.
Had it not been for the excellence of Atromitos keeper Charles Itandje, who at times was left to repel Newcastle single-handedly, the home side’s place in tomorrow’s draw in Monaco would have been assured long before the game drew to a close.
A Motherwellteam featuring four teenagers in the starting line-up held Levante for 72 minutes in Spain before their European campaign ended in another defeat.
Michael Higdon had a goal disallowed as an injury-hit Motherwell gave as good as they got in the first half, before Greece striker Theofanis Gekas finished off their Europa League hopes as he converted a cross to complete a 3-0 aggregate win.