Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux: Reds advance to knock-out stages after narrow win
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 27/11/15 8:30am
Liverpool qualified for the knock-out stages of the Europa League after a 2-1 victory over Bordeaux at Anfield on Thursday night.
Having fallen behind to Henri Saivet's well-placed strike from an indirect free-kick inside the area on 33 minutes, a James Milner penalty five minutes later and Christian Benteke's powerful strike put Liverpool ahead at the break.
The Reds had chances to add to their lead early in the second half but were unable to take them.
However, despite some late Bordeaux pressure, Jurgen Klopp's side held on to go top of Group B and progress to the last 32.
Liverpool had started the game much the brighter, managing to pass their way through Bordeaux's high press.
However, despite making most of the running, when the first chance came it fell to the visitors. A mix up at the back after a hopeful long ball was pumped over the top resulted in Simon Mignolet outside his box and heading the ball straight to Enzo Crivelli.
With the goal unguarded though, the striker rushed his shot and struck it against Kolo Toure to hand Mignolet a reprieve, albeit a short one.
While Klopp's side continued to play on the front foot, Bordeaux remained dangerous on the break with Diego Rolan on the right particularly lively and keen to take advantage of the space left when Alberto Moreno joined the Liverpool attacks from full-back.
One such occasion led to a free-kick 25 yards out that Saivet hit into the wall. That was merely a warm up, as it turned out.
Benteke then went close as he chested down a lofted ball into him and volleyed narrowly wide. Threatening balls into the area from Jordon Ibe and Milner came to nothing before Willy Sagnol's side went in front after an unusual turn of events.
Mignolet collected a long ball and with both his centre-backs marked, he opted against rolling the ball to Lucas or kicking it long. He delayed for what seemed an eternity before referee Alon Yefet blew up for an indirect free-kick to Bordeaux.
With all 11 Liverpool players back, the ball was nudged to Saivet and he curled the ball expertly past the onrushing defenders and into the top corner.
The lead lasted only five minutes, however, before Liverpool had equalised from the penalty spot.
Milner lofted a hopeful ball into the box for Benteke and after the striker was hauled back, Yefet awarded the penalty.
Milner stepped up and sent Cedric Carrasso the wrong way to level the scores.
That appeared to be that for the first half before Nathaniel Clyne fizzed a low ball into Benteke in the final seconds of the half. The striker controlled it with his first touch before rifling it beyond the keeper with his second.
The Belgian should have doubled his tally early in the second half as Roberto Firmino got in behind the defence and pulled the ball back to him 10 yards out.
However, on his weaker left foot, Benteke skied his shot well over the crossbar.
He did have the ball in the net five minutes later, only to see his effort ruled out for a soft looking foul on Cedric Yambere as he positioned himself for Milner's cross.
Joe Allen then stung Carrasso's palms with a fierce effort from 25 yards before Ibe burst into the area and shooting straight at the stopper from a reasonably tight angle.
From that point on, chances were few and far between as Liverpool sat back and Bordeaux struggled to break them down.
The crowd remained vocal though as home and away fans united in venting their frustrations at the referee.
Bordeaux did nearly snatch a draw at the death as the ball fell kindly for Clement Chantome in the box but he lashed his left foot shot over the top.
It finished 2-1 though and Liverpool can relax ahead of their final game with Sion, knowing qualification is assured and that a draw will give them top spot in the group.