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Narrow win secures group for Liverpool
Published : 06 Dec 2012 20:16:50
It was only his third strike for the club he joined for £16million in the summer of 2011 - and his first since May 8 - but he would have had another had it not been for a brilliant reaction save from former Liverpool goalkeeper Daniele Padelli.
But with Young Boys beating Anzhi the goal was the difference between the Reds reaching the knockout stages for the ninth time in 11 attempts and crashing out. In finding the net Henderson joined a small but illustrious club of Michael Owen, Fernando Torres and Phil Neal to score for Liverpool in Italy.
It was not all plain sailing, however, as in the 12th minute when Nuri Sahin was forced off with a bloody nose after getting caught in the face, meaning an early introduction for the Reds' leading European scorer this season Jonjo Shelvey.
The hosts, despite having nothing to play for, created the early chances with Mathias Ranegie heading wide and Roberto Pereyra forcing goalkeeper Jose Reina to tip over his effort.
Luis Suarez's first shooting chance came from a free-kick drilled into the wall but Henderson took full advantage of his first sight of goal in the 24th minute. Stewart Downing's corner dropped to Suarez and although his header only reached Suso the young Spaniard had the presence of mind to lay the ball back for Henderson to drill past Padelli.
Udinese briefly threatened when Reina had to make a low save from Fabbrini's long-distance shot but Liverpool finished the stronger as Suarez forced Padelli into a fingertip save with a close-range overhead effort from the last kick of the half.
Suarez and Suso both had shooting opportunities early in the second half but failed to hit the target while Ranegie powered a header just over as the hosts pressed for the equaliser. Henderson almost doubled his tally in the 65th minute from a side-foot volley but Padelli tipped it over.
Four minutes later the goalkeeper produced another stunning stop to deny Suarez from close range after the Uruguay international had jinked past three players in the penalty area. However, just when Udinese started to step up the pressure for an equaliser their chances were diminished by a red card for Giovanni Pasquale.
Having already been booked for clattering into the back of Suso he was shown a second yellow 11 minutes from time for tangling with Sterling. Substitute Antonio di Natale almost produced the cruellest of endings when he fired over with the last kick of the match but Liverpool emerged victorious.