Europa League – Liverpool leave it late in Turkey

An own-goal and Dirk Kuyt strike in the last 10 minutes steered Liverpool to a 2-1 win at Trabzonspor and a place in the Europa League group stage.

Teofilo Gutierrez had given the home side the lead on the night and parity in the tie with an early strike.

Liverpool had never beaten Turkish opposition away from home in European competition, and with Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano missing from the squad the assignment was a tough one.

It became more difficult still once their slim advantage had been cancelled out with just four minutes on the clock.

There was a suspicion of offside in real time as Gutierrez latched on to Gustavo Colman’s wayward strike from distance, tucking the ball past Jose Reina with a classy first-time shot.

The shell-shocked Liverpool defence looked plaintively at the assistant referee, but replays confirmed that the Colombian was onside.

Trabzonspor controlled the play and the exuberant home fans basked in their bright start while the Reds struggled to get a foothold in the tie.

Trabzonspor captain Ibrahima Yattara looked lively for the hosts throughout the first half, providing a stern test for full-back Martin Kelly.

Seventeen minutes in a desperate lunging block from stand-in skipper Jamie Carragher denied Yattara Trabzonspor’s second on the break.

And minutes later he wasted a free header, glancing wide from within the six yard box from a set piece.

Liverpool went virtually chanceless through a dour opening half hour, and though their possession increased as the first period drew to a close, their threat did not.

Glen Johnson did manage to put the ball in the back of the net, but the assistant referee correctly ruled that the full-back had narrowly mistimed his run and was offside.

Manager Roy Hodgson opted to keep faith in his 11 starters after the interval, while Senol Gunes brought on Alanzinho for Trabzonspor.

For the first few minutes the Turkish side pushed and played dangerous through balls which caught the Liverpool defence cold.

David N’gog missed a gilt-edged chance for the visitors, putting a header wide after a well-judged cross from Joe Cole.

And as the half wore on Trabzonspor held on to their slender lead, and both sides looked prepared for extra time.

But when Johnson broke free down the right hand side Remzi Giray Kacar, under pressure from N’gog, contrived to turn the cross past Onur Kivrak’s reach and into the goal.

The wind had been taken out of Trabzonspor’s sails, and Liverpool grabbed the win on the night on the break.

Ryan Babel, freshly on for the Reds, danced down the left and released Cole for a shot which Kivrak spilled into Kuyt’s path for a tap-in.

Mark Patterson / Eurosport

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