Liverpool late show seals victory
Liverpool overcame a disastrous start to reach the UEFA Europa League group stages on Thursday by scoring twice in the last seven minutes to defeat Trabzonspor 2-1 for a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Playing without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, Liverpool saw their 1-0 first leg advantage last just four minutes in Turkey when Colombian international Teofilo Gutierrez put the home side in front. He had been set up by Gustavo Colman who had pounced when Dirk Kuyt gave the ball away.
But Roy Hodgson's side regained the initiative in the 83rd minute when Trabzonspor's Giray Kacar diverted a Glen Johnson cross into his own net. Kuyt then added the second on the night for Liverpool in the 88th minute after goalkeeper Onur Kivrak could only parry Joe Cole's shot into the Dutchman's path.
"A lot of people have said a lot of things about my future, but for me it is at Liverpool. I like it here at the club and I want to stay here and win things," said Kuyt.
Jamie Carragher, Liverpool skipper in the absence of Gerrard, added: "It was very tough, they are a very good side. They made a great start, but we showed great character and concentration in a difficult atmosphere and it's a very good result."
Later Thursday, Manchester City and Aston Villa will be hoping to join Liverpool in Friday's draw for the group stages. City have a 1-0 advantage from the first leg as Romanian side FC Timisoara visit Eastlands while Villa try to build on a 1-1 draw away to Rapid Vienna, the side who put them out last season.
Elsewhere, Celtic face Dutch side Utrecht 2-0 up from the home leg. The two other Scottish sides have work to do, however, as Dundee United lost 1-0 at home to Greek side AEK Athens and Motherwell must overcome a 2-1 away deficit against Odense of Denmark.
Juventus, who like Liverpool and Villa are former European champions, should complete the job against Sturm Graz of Austria leading 2-1 from the away leg.