Play-off Round

Liverpool to face Hearts in play-off

August 10, 2012
By ESPN staff

Former European champions Liverpool have drawn Scottish side Hearts in an all-British Europa League play-off tie.

Europa League draw
GettyImagesThe Europa League draw in Nyon

The Reds cruised into the final qualifying round of the competition with a 4-0 aggregate win over FC Gomel of Belarus, while Hearts qualified for this stage by virtue of winning the Scottish Cup.

It's will be a welcome draw for Brendan Rodger's team, who have avoided an energy-sapping foreign trip three days before their second Premier League match of the season against Manchester City.

Hearts manager John McGlynn was thrilled with the draw. "What a prospect for all the young players to be playing Liverpool," he said.

"Stevie Gerrard will be getting as much as my budget probably so we're up against it but what an opportunity.

"It's 11 against 11, there will be a massive crowd and atmosphere at Tynecastle. I would imagine the bookmakers would favour Liverpool but every dog has its day."

Newcastle United must travel to Greece to face Atromitos Athens, who fineshed fourth in the Greek Super League, in-between their Premier League opener at home to Tottenham and a trip to Champions League winners Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Italian giants Inter Milan face Romanian side Vaslui whilst Lazio, who twice drew with Vaslui in last season Europe League, drew Slovenian side Mura 05. Inter play the first leg away and Lazio begin thier tie at home in Rome.

Athletic Bilbao and Levante are the Primera Division's representatives in the play-offs and will take on Finnish champions HJK Helsinki and Motherwell respectively.

Coupe de la Ligue winners Marseille have a fixture against Sheriff Tiraspol to look forward to, with Bordeaux set to come up against Crvena Zvezda.

Hannover travel to Slask Wroclaw and are confident of reaching the group stage, with chairman Martin Kind saying: "Our team is good enough to beat Slask Wroclaw and qualify for the Europa League. Nothing else matters."

However, coach Hannover coach Mirko Slomka said: "This is not an easy draw. They have won the Polish league by surprise, but our aim has not changed: We want the Europa League."

Stuttgart face Dinamo Moscow in their Europa League qualifier and come up against their former Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi.

Kuranyi, 30, signed for Dinamo in 2010, scoring 22 goals in 57 games so far, and said: "A match against Stuttgart - that is outstanding. VfB is a tough opponent, but we are strong enough to go through to the group stages.

"This will be a small home match for me. A lot of my friends and family will be in the stadium. The Reds will always remain a special team for me."

The Eredivisie have five clubs in the play-offs - AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord, Heerenveen, FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven.

They face Anzhi Makhachkala, Sparta Prague, Molde, Bursaspor and Zeta respectively.

Teams entering in Group Stage (drawn August 31): Academica, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lyon, Napoli, Rubin Kazan, Tottenham Hotspur