Cracker from Benteke secures Liverpool's spot in last 32 of Europa League

Big Belgian’s strike on halftime proves difference as Reds advance with a game to spare.

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A STUNNING CHRISTIAN Benteke goal proved the difference as Liverpool advanced to the last 32 of the Europa League with a deserved 2-1 victory against Bordeaux tonight.

The win sees Jurgen Klopp’s side go top of Groub B with one game remaining, a trip to Switzerland to face second-placed FC Sion on December 10.

It is the third time Liverpool have advanced from the Europa League group stages in as many attempts. And they will join Tottenham in the knockout stages who earlier had a 1-0 win away to Qarabga FK in Azerbaijan.

The Liverpool game wasn’t short on incidents with three legitimate goals, one of which came from an indirect free-kick, two disallowed goals and a penalty.

Simon Mignolet will be the most relieved man in Liverpool tonight after he gave away a needless indirect free-kick, just after the half-hour mark, 16 yards from goal for holding on to the ball too long.

About 14 seconds too long that is, on a night when Liverpool were on top and needed the win, it was inexcusable, even if goalkeepers are rarely penalised for it these days.

From the free-kick, the ball was rolled to Senegalese midfielder Henri Saivet, who drilled the ball into the top corner. An embarrassed Mignolet could only watch it fly past him into the net in what was the French side’s first goal on English soil.

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It didn’t take Liverpool, for whom Daniel Sturridge was a late withdrawal just before kick-off, long to respond however. They had looked dangerous down the flanks all night with Alberto Moreno and Jordon Ibe particularly impressive.

Just five minutes after Bordeaux had taken the lead, James Milner had some joy down the left and floated in a harmless looking cross towards Benteke. The Belgian had Ludovic Sané’s arms all over him and he didn’t need much encouragement to go down.

After the game, when asked did he feel the contact, he admitted: “You have to play the game.” Read from that what you will.


Bordeaux looked poor at the back all night in all areas, high balls, low balls and out wide. And were it not for Benteke straying offside after being played through by Ibe just before the half-hour mark, Liverpool would have taken the lead.

But 15 minutes later, on the stroke of halftime, Liverpool had some more joy out wide and Benteke made no mistake this time.

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Nathaniel Clyne swung in a decent delivery, but the big Belgian still had plenty to do. He took a soft touch with his right foot on the volley before firing it on the half-volley into the bottom corner to send Liverpool into the dressing-room with their noses in front.

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The second-half was a much duller affair. Bordeaux dominated the possession statistics but did very little with it.

Liverpool still looked dangerous when they got it out wide but they seemed happy to sit back rather than go for the jugular.

The one standout moment was a free-flowing Liverpool move that involved Joe Allen, Firmino and Milner before Benteke coolly slotted home. However, he was penalised for a trip on Sané before his tidy finish and the goal was ruled out.

Klopp brought on Adam Lallana and Emre Can but neither made much of a difference.

Both sides became sloppy in possession as the game progressed, and in a dour final quarter, Liverpool just about did enough to secure the vital three points.

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About the author:

Alan Waldron

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