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Liverpool 2, Bordeaux 1: Reds Advance to the Next Round

Liverpool do just enough to take their first home in under Jürgen Klopp and qualify for the knockout rounds of the Europa Leage.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Liverpool 2 Milner 38' (Pen), Benteke 45+1'
Bordeaux 1 Saivet 33'

Jürgen Klopp made four changes from the side that demolished City on Saturday, recalling Kolo Toure, Joe Allen, Jordon Ibe and Christian Benteke to the starting XI. Allen joined Lucas Leiva in the double pivot, while Roberto Firmino and James Milner rounded out the attacking support behind Benteke.

Liverpool's first chance literally fell to Firmino as he latched onto a huge clearance from Simon Mignolet, but his half-volleyed shot failed to trouble Bordeaux's Carrasso. Despite establishing some neat interplay in midfield, the home side struggled to create clear cut chances, and were nearly undone minutes later, as Allen and Dejan Lovren combined to present Rolan with an opportunity. Mignolet made an absurd effort at a headed clearance and Toure was on hand to block the subsequent shot.

Immediately after, Lucas nutmegged an attacker in his own box and sprung a counter through Jordon Ibe, whose mazy run into the Bordeaux area was stopped at the last moment. Liverpool's harmless dominance continued, with a Toure run and volley and a correctly disallowed Benteke goal as close as they got in the first half hour.

On 31 minutes, referee Alon Yefet, whose whistle was heard early and often throughout the night, pulled a collector's item out of the bag, as Simon Mignolet was penalized for holding onto the ball for too long. While the Belgian did take nearly twenty seconds to release the ball, it is a call that is rarely seen in professional football, and the decision was symptomatic of the referee's performance on the night. Either way, Henri Saivet dispatched the indirect free kick into the top corner past a wrong-footed Mignolet and Liverpool were a goal down.

Yefet's whistle was heard again mere moments after the restart, as Benteke went down under soft contact in the box and was awarded a penalty. Captain James Milner coolly buried the spot kick in the bottom corner, levelling the game.

Benteke involved himself again as the first half went into injury time. His first touch from Clyne's mediocre cross was exquisite, and the hammered half-volley finish from twenty yards flew into the corner, taking Liverpool into the break one goal up.

The home team came out swinging in the second half, and within ten minutes had seen three great chances go begging. First, Benteke sliced Firmino's cutback miles over the bar from twelve yards, then the big Belgian had a goal softly disallowed as Sané seemed to trip over his own feet while contesting a cross from MIlner, and finally Ibe smashed a shot from short range straight at Carrasso after latching onto a Firmino headed throughball.

The game died down after that point, as Liverpool contentedly sat back and allowed Bordeaux to have the ball, while looking to threaten on the break, but without exposing themselves. There was little action of note until the 90th minute, when Mignolet was forced to palm away another Saivet free kick. He made light work of the save and secured Liverpool's win and advancement to the knockout rounds.

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While the margin of victory might have been small in the end, this was a comfortable win for Liverpool. They started the game sluggishly, but again only conceded chances from defensive mistakes rather than getting outplayed, and never seemed in trouble after they took the lead.

Simon Mignolet didn't have the best of games, appearing anxious at times after his mistake, and Firmino, despite setting up a number of chances for his teammates, seemed slightly leggy. Other than that, the team put together a professional, if not explosive, performance, with Benteke the standout performer on the night. Lucas and Allen patrolled central midfield to good effect, and the entire defensive line put in another solid shift.

It will be interesting to see what kind of team Klopp puts out against Sion in two weeks, and whether he will rotate his squad with qualification to the knockout stages secured. But first, an attempt at Liverpool's first win following a European fixture this season.

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