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Zenit escape despite Liverpool loss

Published: Thursday 21 February 2013, 23.11CET
Liverpool FC 3-1 FC Zenit St Petersburg (agg: 3-3, Zenit win on away goals) Two Luis Suárez free-kicks and Joe Allen's strike were not quite enough to rescue the Reds.
by Simon Hart
from Anfield
Published: Thursday 21 February 2013, 23.11CET

Zenit escape despite Liverpool loss

Liverpool FC 3-1 FC Zenit St Petersburg (agg: 3-3, Zenit win on away goals) Two Luis Suárez free-kicks and Joe Allen's strike were not quite enough to rescue the Reds.

Liverpool FC fell just short of writing another chapter in their history of famous European comebacks as they beat FC Zenit St Petersburg 3-1 only to exit the UEFA Europa League on away goals.

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg in Russia, Liverpool made the worst possible start when Jamie Carragher's fluffed back pass released Hulk to increase Zenit's advantage, but two Luis Suárez free-kicks either side of Joe Allen's strike left Luciano Spalletti's visitors hanging on. Hang on they did, though, and the Russian champions' reward is a round of 16 meeting with FC Basel 1893.

Liverpool had only overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit once in their European history and their task became even harder when Carragher’s mistake, on his 150th and final European outing, sent Hulk bearing down on goal to slot calmly past Pepe Reina. Yet the hosts had hope again in the 28th minute when Daniel Agger was tripped by Nicolas Lombaerts on the edge of the box and Suárez capitalised on the ensuing free-kick. The Uruguayan's conversion found a gap in the Zenit defensive wall and sped past Vyacheslav Malafeev.

"Attack, attack, attack" was the cry from the Kop and two minutes before the interval it was 2-1 as José Enrique broke into the Zenit box on a one-two with Jordan Henderson and crossed to Allen. Although the midfielder's header was blocked by Malafeev, the Welshman buried the rebound for his first European goal.

Zenit lost Lombaerts to injury, Domenico Criscito taking his place, and they also began the second half with Viktor Fayzulin on for Danny. Liverpool's tails were up and just before the hour they levelled the aggregate score at 3-3, Suárez picking himself up after a foul by Luís Neto to curl a superb free-kick into the far corner of the Kop goal from 25 metres.

The red tide kept coming, Malafeev turning away Steven Gerrard's bouncing shot and substitute Jonjo Shelvey hitting the side netting. In between, some uncertain home defending let in Hulk for an effort well saved by Reina, but Zenit had already done enough.

Last updated: 25/09/14 4.05CET

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