praised by Carragher
By James Pearce - Liverpool Echo
Jamie Carragher paid tribute to Liverpool
super subs Ryan Babel and Daniel Pacheco after they helped
secure a 1-0 victory over Unirea Urziceni in the first leg
of the Europa League clash at Anfield.
Babel provided the cross from the left which Pacheco headed
back across goal for David Ngog to net the only goal of the
game nine minutes from time.
“Ryan and Dani did very well when they came on and made a
big contribution for the goal,” Carragher said.
“They gave us a bit of a lift and more energy and that’s
what we needed. They made the difference.”
It was Pacheco’s third senior appearance and Carragher
believes the young Spaniard has a big future.
“Pacheco came on and did well again,” he added.
“He’s a good lad as well and all of the lads get on with him
very well. We are delighted for him to get his first team
chance which he deserves.”
The Reds only have a narrow lead to take to Bucharest for
next Thursday’s second leg but Carragher is confident they
will progress to the last 16.
“In Europe you never want to concede a goal so we have to be
pleased with that,” he said.
“We would have liked to have scored a few more goals and
kill the tie off but it’s still alive now and it will be a
difficult game over there.
“They were very organised and we have to give them credit
for that. It’s up to us to try and break them down and in
the end we did.
“It would have been nice to get a few more but hopefully we
can get an away goal and finish the game off next week.”
Fourth place is
priority for Reds
Comment by David Randles - Liverpool Echo
It started just days after the Champions
League exit. Arsenal were the visitors to Anfield. Not
renowned for their sharp terrace humour, the Gunners
supporters proceeded to have a laugh at the expense of their
hosts, trying out a new ditty that was purpose made for the
As ‘Thursday night. Channel Five’ rang out from the Anfield
Road towards the Kop the ignominy of slipping through the
Champions League trap door into the Europa League suddenly
For anyone watching on TV last night, the temptation to
flick over to Channel 4 and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding must
have been difficult to resist as Liverpool struggled to
break the deadlock against the little known Unirea Urziceni.
With that, the Gunners fans might well gloat.
Their trip to Oporto a night earlier marked a 10th
consecutive year in the Champions League knockout stage. No
other team can boast such an enviable record.
They might never have won it, but consistent participation
throughout the competition’s wealthiest era has guaranteed
Arsenal a share of the riches that are deemed essential for
the privileged few to continue to rub wallets year after
With Liverpool clinging on to their claims for re-entry into
that competition Arsenal’s model of consistency will attract
enviable glances from the Anfield’s money men.
It seems the penny is yet to drop with those who hold the
purse strings, though, that investment in the squad
increases the probability of success on the pitch which in
turn delivers the financial rewards to sustain your position
at the top of the game.
It’s not exactly rocket science, and yet failure to build on
previous successes now sees Liverpool feeding off the scraps
on offer in the Champions League’s poor relation.
Although an admirable 40,000plus turned up at Anfield last
night, there was a sense that no-one really wanted to be
Other than the few hundred Urziceni fans who stayed behind
to conduct a rendition of ‘Hey Jude’, events in the stands
were akin to those on the pitch; bereft of inspiration and a
little bit flat.
But then this was Liverpool’s first taste of European
football away from the elite since 2004 when a Didier
Drogba-inspired Marseille dumped Gerard Houllier’s team out
of the UEFA Cup at the fourth round stage.
Indeed, it was Rafa Benitez’s Valencia that went on to beat
the French club in the final that year.
Allied with a second La Liga title in three seasons, the
Spaniard was brought to the attention of Liverpool.
In terms of his CV, Benitez knows all too well about the
value of the Europa League. After all, it was this
competition that helped springboard him to Champions League
In terms of the long-term future of Liverpool Football Club
though, victory in Hamburg on May 12 will be hollow if it
means forfeiting fourth place in the Premier League.
Of course, it is a sad indictment on the modern game that
winning a trophy can be deemed secondary to being the fourth
best team in your division.
So while Benitez, Gerrard, Mascherano and Insua have all
pledged their desire this week to become the most successful
club in UEFA Cup history, privately they must know that
domestic matters must be taken care of first.
Failure to qualify for the Champions League again, however,
could impact further on the squad and lead to more nights
like last night.
In the same way that the best players want to play in the
Champions League, Europa League clubs attract Europa League
Put another way, Shakhtar Donetsk picked up around
£3.6million for winning the competition last year.
Meanwhile, Barcelona scooped upwards of £30million for
beating all before them in the Champions League.
The disparities between the two are stark.
For the likes of Liverpool, who increasingly appear to exist
to service the debt saddled on the club, it is a pressing
It was only nine years ago that a special night in Dortmund
signalled the ascent of a once great football club in Europe
Liverpool fans will be hoping that this season’s campaign
isn’t a sign that things are about to head in the other
Narrow advantage suits Benitez
Rafael Benitez was satisfied with
Liverpool's 1-0 Europa League victory over Unirea Urziceni
despite their obvious struggles at Anfield.
Striker David Ngog's goal nine minutes from time eventually
ended the Romanians' resistance on Thursday night to give
the Reds some breathing space ahead of next week's return
And although Benitez would have liked a bigger cushion, he
was happy to take a slender lead to Bucharest.
"I think we could have scored one or two more goals but that
is football," he said.
"The team was doing well in defence, 1-0 and a clean sheet
is not bad.
"Sometimes when the other team is defending well you have to
be patient and keep more of the ball and then we scored at
"It is always important to score, especially in this
competition, and not concede so we were waiting for this
goal and were really please when we scored.
"It is not the best result but it is good. If we score one
[in Romania] they have to score three so a clean sheet was
important so we have to be relieved.
"If you ask me if I would prefer 2-0 then 100% yes but you
cannot change the score now.
"We knew they were well-organised and they were a good team
so we were expecting more or less their style of play."
Two substitutes played a major part in the goal with Ryan
Babel crossing for Daniel Pacheco to head back to Ngog and
Benitez said he was glad to have options from the bench.
"It is always important to have good players on the bench
with skills that can change a game," he added.
The match could have been a lot easier had Steven Gerrard
put away Liverpool's first chance after just 25 seconds.
Ngog's goal was only the sixth in seven European matches
this season - a far cry from the last campaign when they
routed Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield 11 months ago and scored
four in a Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea.
However, Benitez said it was unrealistic to expect his side
to consistently repeat those performances.
"We started really well and I was really pleased for a
while," said the Spaniard.
"We cannot play at the same level that we played against
Real Madrid every game, especially when the away team is
"You have to take you chances and if we had taken the first
one in the first minute it could have been totally different
but we had to be patient and keep on attacking.
"We were trying, passing the ball and continuing to move the
Unirea coach Roni Levy believes the tie is far from over.
"I am disappointed in the result. Of course, Liverpool had
the ball for most of the game but one moment we didn't
concentrate we conceded a goal," he said.
"My players came and did the best they could do. This is the
first half of two legs and I am looking forward to next
"It is a good result to take back to Bucharest: there is
still a lot of interest in the game and still we have a
Gerrard: We'll finish job off
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard reflected on Liverpool's
slender first leg victory over Unirea Urziceni on Thursday
night and insisted the Reds will finish the job off in
Bucharest next week.
Liverpool will travel to the Romanian capital with a David
Ngog goal to protect as they look to secure their place in
the last sixteen of the competiiton, but the skipper
believes Rafael Benitez's side will prove too strong for
Unirea on their own pitch.
"Unirea were very stubborn tonight," he said. "We expected
that because their manager has set up a team against us
before and we knew they'd be difficult to break down.
"We have to be more clinical and I am confident we will get
more joy away from home against them. They will have to try
to beat us and we can kill them off.
"Maybe we lacked five or ten per cent on the pace of the
ball tonight but I am sure we will be better next week."
A place iin the last sixteen against Lille or Fenerbahce is
up for grabs if the Reds can secure their progression next
Thursday - and Gerrard insists the Europa League is a
competiion which will take some winning this season.
"The teams knocked out of the Champions League are fantastic
teams and some of the top sides across Europe are in the
competition so it's going to be tough to win it but we're
confident we can go all the way," he added.
Liverpool to victory
Striker David Ngog’s goal nine minutes
from time eventually broke the resistance of a determined
Unirea Urziceni at Anfield in the Europa League.
With the visitors intent on soaking up plenty of pressure
Rafael Benitez’s side struggled to find the creativity to
get past the massed Romanian ranks.
However, the Frenchman’s close-range header meant the Reds
have some breathing space as they head to Bucharest for next
week’s last-32 second leg.
The victory was only Liverpool’s third in nine European
fixtures since they hammered Real Madrid 4-0 in the last 16
of the Champions League 11 months ago - a disappointing run
which contributed to their exit from Europe’s elite-level
competition in December.
Their job would have been easier had Steven Gerrard
converted their first chance after just 25 seconds when
Unirea lost possession straight from the kick-off.
Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt linked up for the Dutchman to put
the midfielder through but his side-foot shot was tipped
over by goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis, who then punched away
the Liverpool captain’s corner.
Unirea’s 4-5-1 formation meant they were happy to keep 10
men behind the ball and when Liverpool gained possession
they all immediately retreated to the halfway line – meaning
the hosts had to work hard for their openings.
However, Kuyt enjoyed some luck in the 10th minute when his
heavy touch in the penalty area was not cleared and he
followed up to flash a shot across goal which Arlauskis
tipped past the post.
Gerrard was next to miss a chance, planting a 12-yard header
from Riera’s cross well wide.
Riera tried his luck from distance in the 26th minute but
his left-foot drive was deflected wide by George Galamaz.
The game had taken on an attack versus defence training
exercise with Unirea rarely venturing forward.
When they did, with a counter-attack just after the
half-hour, Marius Onofras attempted an audacious lob over
Jose Reina from the halfway line wide on the right but the
Spain goalkeeper comfortably claimed.
Javier Mascherano’s 30-yard drive was deflected wide by
Razvan Paduretu while Ngog’s shot on the turn from just
inside the penalty area was also diverted wide.
Five minutes before half-time Bruno Fernandes was booked for
bringing down Gerrard as he looked to burst clear but Daniel
Agger drilled the 35-yard free-kick straight into the wall.
Heartened by their first half performance Unirea looked more
inclined to go forward after the break but it was Liverpool
who had the first chance with Gerrard heading wide again
from Jamie Carragher’s 52nd-minute cross.
Pablo Brandan was booked for tripping Gerrard in the
centre-circle, ruling him out of next week’s second leg
Had Paduretu shown more composure on the edge of the area
Liverpool could have been in trouble but the midfielder
hacked wildly over.
Fabio Aurelio’s low drive was on target but he was denied by
a good low save from Arlauskis.
The ineffective Riera was replaced by Ryan Babel for the
last 28 minutes and he began encouragingly with two decisive
runs, the latter resulting in a cross to Gerrard at the far
post which the England international could not keep in.
Mascherano was booked for a foul on Iulian Apostol as
Liverpool continued to labour.
Martin Skrtel should have put the home side ahead in the
71st minute but he headed over Aurelio’s inswinging corner
from five yards.
Benitez sent on reserve team striker Daniel Pacheco, making
only his second appearance in Europe, for Alberto Aquilani
with quarter of an hour remaining.
Mascherano was caught in possession by Apostol, who charged
forward 20 yards before curling a shot woefully wide.
With nine minutes to go the breakthrough finally came, with
Pacheco playing an important part.
The diminutive Spaniard, possibly the smallest player on the
pitch, out-jumped his marker at the far post to head back
across goal for Ngog to nod in from five yards.
Gerrard fired just wide in the closing stages as Liverpool
pushed for the second which would give them a cushion ahead
of the second.