Liverpool advance to Europa League last 32

TOM PILCHER
Last updated 09:18 07/12/2012

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Five-times European champions Liverpool survived a late scare to move into the last 32 of the Europa League with a 1-0 win over Italian side Udinese today.

The Premier League club were joined by compatriots Tottenham Hotspur, Steaua Bucharest, VfB Stuttgart and Basel as the last five clubs through to the knockout stages.

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson's first strike of the season after 23 minutes helped Liverpool leapfrog Group A leaders Anzhi Makhachkala, though Antonio Di Natale blazed a good chance over the bar from with the last kick of the game.

Udinese played the last 11 minutes with 10 men after Giovanni Pasquale's dismissal and Di Natale could have eliminated Liverpool altogether when he wasted a great late chance as Anzhi lost 3-1 at Young Boys in Berne.

All three sides were left on 10 points but the Russians' better record over the Swiss club in a three-way head-to-head took them into the knockout stages.

Former European champions Steaua's 10 men held Copenhagen 1-1 to progress as Group E winners on 11 points with Stuttgart in second on eight and level with the Danes but the Germans progressed owing to a better head-to-head record.

Steaua were reduced to 10 men in the 49th minute when Cristian Tanase was sent off but took the lead through Raul Rusescu after 72 minutes, Copenhagen only capitalising on their advantage late on but it was to no avail.

Tottenham beat Panathinaikos 3-1 to take the final Group J slot behind winners Lazio who breezed to a 4-1 win at Maribor. Emmanuel Adebayor put Spurs ahead and Clint Dempsey and Jermain Defoe grabbed late goals to seal a convincing victory.

Basel's 0-0 draw at Group G's top club Racing Genk ensured Hungary's Fehervar, whose match at Sporting was postponed to tomorrow due to a waterlogged pitch, went out.

Holders Atletico Madrid, already assured of last-32 action, lost 1-0 to Viktoria Plzen to finish second by a point in Group B behind the Czechs.

Girondins Bordeaux won the battle for top spot over Newcastle United in Group D, the French club running out 2-0 victors to reach 13 points with the Premier League side on nine.

In Group C, Fenerbahce had already assured top place ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach while in Group F Ukraine's Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, 4-0 winners over AIK Solna, had secured first place ahead of Napoli who lost 3-1 at home to PSV Eindhoven but still advanced.

European champions Chelsea, knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday, head the eight teams who failed to qualify from Europe's top-tier competition this week to make up the 32 in the draw on December 20.

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- Reuters

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