Five-time European champion Liverpool is in danger of Europa League
elimination after losing 1-0 at Lille on Thursday in the away leg
of Round of 16 series.
Eden Hazard scored from a freekick to give Lille the
advantage against Liverpool, which is also struggling to qualify
for any European competition next season due to its poor form in
the Premier League.
“I have confidence we can beat anyone on a good day at
Anfield. The fans will play a part, they will push and will be
behind the team,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. “Lille are a
good side, with good players and they are dangerous. We will play a
difficult game at Anfield, but have confidence we can beat them.”
It was a better night for two-time European champion
Juventus, Hamburg and Standard Liege which all posted 3-1
There were three 1-1 draws – between Benfica and Marseille,
Valencia and Werder Bremen, and Rubin Kazan and Wolfsburg. Atletico
Madrid was held to a 0-0 draw by nine-man Sporting.
Liverpool is already struggling to get used to life in
Europe’s second-tier knockout competition and nearly survived
without conceding a goal in France until Hazard beat goalkeeper
Pepe Reina with a curling freekick from the left.
Lille could have added a second goal in the closing stages
but substitute striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post from
close range with Reina beaten.
Liverpool’s fellow Premier League side, Fulham, also endured
a miserable night. Goals from Nicola Legrottaglie, Jonathan Zebina
and David Trezeguet gave Juventus a comfortable victory over
Fulham, which reduced the deficit through Dickson Etuhu.
In Greece, Milan Jovanovic scored a goal and assisted another
to help Belgian side Standard defeat Panathinaikos
Alex Witsel and Igor de Camargo scored Standard’s other
goals, while Loukas Vyntra was on target for Panathinaikos, which
beat AS Roma in the previous round.
At Hamburg, Joris Mathijsen, Ruud van Nistelrooy and David
Jarolim all scored as the German side gained a decisive lead over
“We have to play the next game with the same attitude,”
Hamburg striker Ruud van Nistelrooy said. “We need to score an away
goal and then it should be decided.”
In Madrid, Sporting held Atletico to a goalless draw despite
having Leandro Grimi and Tonel sent off.
Substitute Hatem Ben Arfa headed home in the last minute to
earn a 1-1 draw for Marseille at Benfica, canceling out Maxi
Pereira’s 75th-minute opener.
Wolfsburg has the upper hand in its clash with Rubin Kazan
after drawing in Russia. Zvjezdan Misimovic canceled out Cristian
Noboa’s opener for the German side.