After their disappointing exit from the Champions league, Liverpool were dropped into the Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA Cup) and tonight they played their first match, up against the Romanian team Unirea Urziceni. With fans screaming for silverware a lot is expected of Liverpool and they set out to prove themselves at home in this first leg.
Also playing at home in the Europa League tonight was Fulham who had a tougher tie against Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk who are the holders of the UEFA Cup. These two were hoisting the flag for England in this competition but there were plenty of other games played in the Europa League tonight.
At Anfield Liverpool applied the pressure very early on and looked at ease, but their chances and creativity play was soon bogged by a touch of frustration as the scores remained level throughout the first half. Liverpool were expected to win big and no doubt wanted a big score to please the fans, but it wasn’t happening for them.
Liverpool continued press in the second half but they lacked the finishing touch. Ngog had a few chances and Gerrard and Aurelio were also trying to open things up but Urziceni were strong at the back and Liverpool really seemed to be missing Torres. With ten minutes to go Liverpool finally broke the Romanians down when Ngog threw himself at a Pacheco pass to head in from close range.
Despite more pressure Liverpool settled for this 1-0 win and will go to Romania with a small advantage for the second leg. They played well tonight but they just couldn’t take their chances.
Fulham started fantastically in the other English tie of the night. Gera drove in a shot after a Zamora assist with just two minutes played – the ball bouncing under the ‘keeper and into the net. The Champions pressured Fulham though and with thirty-two minutes gone they got their equalizer when Luiz Adriano latched onto a through ball, rounded the Goalkeeper and converted.
With thirty minutes left to play Fulham slipped back into the lead after a twenty-five yard strike from Zamora smashed into the roof of the net. They went in search of a third, playing impressive football, but failed to find it. A good win for Fulham in the end and if they can keep a solid defense against Shakhtar in the second leg then they could gain a very impressive victory.