A late Liverpool winner ensured they will return to Anfield with a 1-0 advantage in their Europa League play-off with Hearts.
Late own goal gives Liverpool a slender first-leg win in ScotlandA late Liverpool winner ensured they will return to Anfield with a 1-0 advantage in their Europa League play-off with Hearts. The two sides produced a lively first leg at Tynecastle which lived up to the hype of an Anglo-Scottish clash. The Jambos provided a much tougher challenge than when they faced Tottenham at the same stage last year, losing 5-0 at home. But a 78th-minute own goal from Andy Webster prevented them heading to England on level terms. The result was harsh on Hearts as they did the SPL proud by looking the most threatening side for most of the contest. A packed Tynecastle crowd created a superb atmosphere and they were rewarded with a hard-fought encounter, as the players' effort and commitment made up for a lack of quality in the final third.
Sterling startWith a home game against Premier League champions Manchester City awaiting them, Liverpool fielded a much different line-up to Saturday's 3-0 defeat at West Brom and 17-year-old striker Raheem Sterling was handed his first senior start - although there was not even a place on the bench for Andy Carroll. After Charlie Adam's low strike tested Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, John McGlynn's men took the game to Liverpool, giving them barely a moment on the ball. The hosts began to find space in the Liverpool half and Arvydas Novikovas unleashed a swerving 30-yard strike which was destined for the top corner until Jose Reina managed to tip it over. John Sutton then turned Jamie Carragher to fire wide from the edge of the box before David Templeton's shot blazed across goal and narrowly wide of the upright. Liverpool replied on the half-hour mark with Sterling's 25-yard effort keeping MacDonald alert before Templeton volleyed over from inside the Liverpool box.
Borini missThen on the stroke of half-time, Liverpool's £10million-man Fabio Borini missed a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock. Sterling latched onto a wayward cross-field ball to put the Reds two-on-one against defender Marius Zaliukas and the youngster unselfishly squared for Borini, who could only sidefoot against a post from right in front of MacDonald. For all Liverpool's possession, they struggled to create more clear-cut openings after the break and Novikovas worked room to fizz a 25-yard strike narrowly over. Stewart Downing and Joe Allen came into the fray after the hour mark and it was Downing who spread the ball right for Martin Kelly to whip in a low cross and although Borini somehow failed to get a touch, the ball struck Webster behind him and went in from six yards out. Sterling twice fired wide as Liverpool pushed for a second away goal but Hearts might have claimed a late leveller. Ryan's McGowan right-wing cross fell kindly for substitute Andy Driver, whose tame shot was easy for Reina, and the Liverpool goalkeeper then dived low to his right to turn the ball wide after Callum Paterson hit a superb volley goalwards from a tight angle.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||2|
|7||Shots off Target||7|
|39.9||1st Half Poss.||60.1|
|30.7||2nd Half Poss.||69.3|