Europa League: Liverpool 1 Sparta Prague 0

Kenny Dalglish made a winning start to his Anfield European managerial campaign with a nerve-wracking 1-0 win over Czech side Sparta Prague.

The Reds left it very late but Dirk Kuyt’s 85th minute winner was enough to send them through to the last 16 of the Europa League.

The three times European Cup winner saw his side toil to break down the hard-working Czechs at a sold out Anfield until the dramatic finish.

Dalglish was desperately short of attacking options with Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez cup-tied, British record signing Andy Carroll and skipper Steven Gerrard injured, while former frontman Fernando Torres is already on Champions League duty with new club Chelsea.

That left David Ngog as their only real striking options and the young Frenchman looked desperately short of confidence in front of goal.

Liverpool were closest to scoring in a high-tempo first half that lacked any real quality.

Sotiris Kyrgiakos bravely got the end of a Raul Meireles corner but Jaromir Blazek saved well low down.

Meireles then blasted harmlessly over while Ngog forced another save from Blazek when he should have done better.

But Liverpool had to be aware of the visitors’ counter attacks as they showed more ambition than in the first leg in the Czech capital.

Joe Cole and Dirk Kuyt wasted half chances as the tension began to grow after the restart.

Meirles then opened up the Czech defence with quarter of an hour to go but Blazek did well to deny Ngog from close range.

Kuyt shot straight at Blazek after good work again from Meireles before he finally broke the deadlock five minutes from time rising highest in a packed penalty box to head home.

With Sparta pushing forward, Liverpool should have killed off the tie but Ngog and Joe Cole missed glorious chances in injury time but they hung over for the whistle.

 


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