Europa League

October 25, 2012

Full-time

Liverpool

1 - 0

Anzhi Makhachkala

Group A

19:05 +00:00, October 25, 2012

Anfield, England

Referee: Bas Nijhuis

Downing steers Reds to victory

#INSERT
type:image
caption:Stewart Downing scored from left-back for the Reds
END#

A superb strike from Stewart Downing saw Liverpool claim a 1-0 victory over Anzhi Makhachkala in their Europa League clash at Anfield and move into top spot in Group A.

- Rodgers pleased with Reds performance

- Highlights (UK only): Liverpool 1-0 Anzhi

Downing cracked home an unstoppable effort from outside the box in the 53rd minute after coming in from the left flank.

The win was no less than the Reds deserved having been the better side for much of the contest, and they now lead the group with six points from three games.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers fielded a strong side including the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, resisting the temptation to rest a host of players ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League derby at Everton and making only three changes from the win over Reading on Saturday.

It was clear Rodgers was not about to underestimate nouveaux riche Anzhi, who lead the Russian top-flight, and are overseen by one-time Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink and had former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o up front.

The Reds were looking to bounce back from a 3-2 home defeat to Udinese in their previous Europa League outing and made a positive start without fashioning anything to really trouble visiting goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov.

He easily collected a shot from Suarez in the 12th minute and then pushed away an effort by Glen Johnson before Jonjo Shelvey - scorer of three goals in the previous two group games - ballooned an attempt over the bar from the edge of the box.

Eto'o had been relatively quiet, miscontrolling on the occasion when the ball had come to him in a useful position in the area, and Liverpool continued to carve out half-chances, with Oussama Assaidi seeing Gabulov get behind his strike to the near post and then catching his free-kick.

Johnson found himself through on goal in the 35th minute, but failed to get a shot in and took a tumble under the attentions of Kamil Agalarov, with the referee waving the Reds defender's penalty claims away.

Nuri Sahin headed a corner over and Daniel Agger was next to make a foray forward from defence, trying his luck from distance with an effort that curled high and wide.

Anzhi registered an attempt on goal in first-half stoppage-time when Fedor Smolov fizzed the ball across Brad Jones and wide.

Rodgers added new impetus to his attack at the interval by introducing Raheem Sterling for Johnson, and there were encouraging signs for Liverpool soon after the break, with Martin Skrtel's powerful drive bringing a save out of Gabulov before Gerrard headed Shelvey's cross wide.

The Reds kept up the pressure and moments later they made the breakthrough as Downing, who had been shifted to left-back, cut in from out wide and smashed the ball into the net.

Suarez almost swiftly added another with a strike that went just the wrong side of the post, and Shelvey then sent a shot into Gabulov's arms.

With the lead still only at 1-0, though, Liverpool could not afford to switch off at the back and they survived a scare in the 70th minute when defensive sloppiness saw the ball come to Eto'o, whose effort was saved by Jones.

Assaidi and Suarez went down in the box in separate tussles with the referee only being moved to book the latter for protesting, before Mbark Boussoufa saw a shot deflect wide of Jones' goal.

Agger thought he had doubled Liverpool's advantage when he headed the ball from Gabulov's hand and lashed in, but he also only picked up a booking.

Anzhi issued further warnings, with Skrtel making a goal-line clearance to deny Mehdi Carcela and substitute Lacina Traore striking wide.

Gerrard then fired over and Carcela struck wide at the other end before the full-time whistle confirmed Liverpool's win.

Scoring Summary

Liverpool Anzhi Makhachkala
Stewart Downing (53') 

Teams

Liverpool Anzhi Makhachkala
Brad JonesVladimir Gabulov
Glen Johnson5 Joao Carlos
Daniel AggerChristopher Samba
37 Martin SkrtelMbark Boussoufa
47 Andre Wisdom18 Yuri Zhirkov
Steven Gerrard21 Georgi Gabulov
19 Stewart Downing16 Mehdi Gonzalez
Nuri Sahin7 Kamil Agalarov
33 Jonjo Shelvey14 Oleg Shatov
Luis SuárezSamuel Eto'o
11 Oussama Assaidi20 Fyodr Smolov
Substitutes
42 Peter GulacsiEvgeny Pomazan 22
23 Jamie CarragherArseniy Logashov 15
24 Joe AllenRasim Tagirbekov 13
14 Jordan HendersonAli Gadzhibekov 3
31 Raheem SterlingShamil Lakhiyalov 10
36 Samed YesilSharif Mukhammad 17
30 SusoLacina Traore 19
Substitutions
Raheem Sterling for Glen Johnson (46)
Arseniy Logashov for Kamil Agalarov (61)
Joe Allen for Jonjo Shelvey (80)
Lacina Traore for Fyodr Smolov (64)
 Shamil Lakhiyalov for Mbark Boussoufa (77)
Yellow Cards
Luis Suárez (75)
Christopher Samba (21)
Daniel Agger (81)
Kamil Agalarov (43)
· Squads: Liverpool | Anzhi Makhachkala