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Unirea undone by Liverpool pedigree

Published: Thursday 25 February 2010, 20.48CET
FC Unirea Urziceni 1-3 Liverpool FC (agg: 1-4)
Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard ensured the five-time European champions' progress.
Unirea undone by Liverpool pedigree
Yossi Benayoun (left) is first to congratulate Javier Mascherano on his equaliser against Unirea ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 25 February 2010, 20.48CET

Unirea undone by Liverpool pedigree

FC Unirea Urziceni 1-3 Liverpool FC (agg: 1-4)
Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard ensured the five-time European champions' progress.

Liverpool FC came from behind to beat FC Unirea Urziceni 3-1 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate to book a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 16.

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Though Rafael Benítez's charges did ultimately ensure the natural order, they did so the hard way. The first-leg advantage handed to them by David Ngog's late strike at Anfield was quickly wiped out by Bruno Fernandes, but Javier Mascherano's first goal of the season restored parity in Romania. Ryan Babel and Steven Gerrard then gave the Reds a three-goal cushion that proved enough for the Premier League side to cruise through to a last-16 date with LOSC Lille Métropole.

Unirea were not cowed by their visitors' European pedigree, deservedly going in front inside 20 minutes. Liverpool's defence were caught flat-footed by Răzvan Pădureţu's corner and Bruno Fernandes climbed highest to ignite the tie. The response was not long in coming, though, and after Gerrard tried his luck from distance, Mascherano showed his captain how to do it, rifling in from 20 metres to draw the Reds level.

Unirea were unbowed as Pădureţu's artistry and set-piece delivery continued to cause trouble, but it was Gerrard who came to the fore five minutes before half-time, delivering a free-kick that found its way to Babel, who controlled with aplomb, swivelled and finished.

Another Gerrard set piece prompted Unirea goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis into action soon after the break, yet it was from open play that the England midfielder put the tie to bed once and for all. Yossi Benayoun did the legwork, snaking his way through the Unirea defence before cleverly feeding his midfield colleague, whose finish spun in via Arlauskis's legs. Marius Ioan Bilaşco was somehow denied by Pepe Reina late on but the damage had long since been done.

Last updated: 01/03/10 21.25CET

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