Liverpool, Inter into Europa League group stages

30 August 2012 10:49

European heavyweights Liverpool and Inter Milan qualified for the Europa League group stage after coming through their respective play-off ties on Thursday.

Luis Suarez's goal sent Liverpool into the knock-out phase with a 1-1 draw against Scottish Premier League side Hearts.

Brendan Rodgers' team had a 1-0 advantage from last week's first leg at Tynecastle but despite dominating for long periods at Anfield, they failed to put the visitors out of reach.

David Templeton looked set to make them pay for their wastefulness when his weak shot was allowed into the net by Pepe Reina with six minutes left.

But four minutes later Suarez burst away down the left and managed to find the net from close-range.

At the San Siro, Inter made life complicated for themselves with the 33rd minute sending off of Luca Castellazzi.

Unheralded Romanian visitors Vaslui converted the subsequent penalty to take a shock lead. Inter's Rodrigo Palaccio9 levelled but Vaslui regained the advantage only for Fredy Guarin to grab an injury time equaliser to put the Serie A giants through 4-2 on aggregate,

Liverpool have Premier League company in the knockout stages as Newcastle edged Greek side Atromitos 1-0 at St James' Park, the goal coming from substitute Haris Vuckic, to qualify 2-1 and join compatriots Tottenham Hotspur in Friday's draw in Monaco.

Last season's Europea League runners-up Athletic Bilbao were held 3-3 in Finland by HJK but coasted through with a 9-3 aggregate win.

The main upset of the evening came in Russia where heavyweights CSKA Moscow succumbed 2-0 to Swedish outfit AIK to crash out 3-0 on aggregate.

In contrast CSKA's ambitious compatruiots Anzhi Makhachkala meted out a 5-0 drubbing to AZ Alkmaar, with Samuel Eto'o on the scoresheet.

But Serie A's Lazio and French duo Marseille and Bordeaux all go through to the knockout stages after wins respectively over Mura of Slovenia, Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova and Red Star Belgrade.

The most lospided result of the night came courtesy of PSV Eindhoven who thumped hapless FK Zeta of Montenegro 9-0 for a cricket-style aggregate scoreline of 14-0.

In total 30 teams booked their tickets into the competition proper, as well as Stuttgart who won their play-off against Dinamo Moscow on Tuesday. This group join seven teams automatically qualified and ten refugees from the Champion League play-offs.

Source: AFP