Champions League: So close yet Sofia for Liverpool

Published: November 28, 2014
Captain Steven Gerrard jumps over a challenge from Romanian defender Cosmin Moti but his side were unable to negotiate Ludogorets as expertly. PHOTO: AFP

Captain Steven Gerrard jumps over a challenge from Romanian defender Cosmin Moti but his side were unable to negotiate Ludogorets as expertly. PHOTO: AFP

SOFIA: A late equaliser by European minnows Ludogorets denied Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday, with The Reds now needing a win against Basel in their final Group B fixture at Anfield in order to progress into the knockout stages.

It was anything but plain sailing for Liverpool, who were coming into the match on the back of four consecutive defeats, as Dani Abalo put Ludogorets ahead in only the third minute of the match. However, Rickie Lambert equalised just five minutes later and Jordan Henderson’s strike made it 2-1 for the visitors before the interval.

But Liverpool were denied a morale-boosting win when Georgi Terziev levelled in the 88th minute. After the match, Manager Brendan Rodgers tried to downplay the equaliser, instead praising his players for the result. “To go a goal behind so early on you really need a team that is together and I think the character of the team came out,” Rodgers told Sky Sports. “We are disappointed with the goal we conceded in the end but it is irrelevant, we need to beat Basel in the final game. This is a real confidence boost for us, because Ludogorets are a really difficult team to play against.”

Ronaldo equals Raul’s tally

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 71st Champions League goal as Real Madrid registered a club record-equalling 15th consecutive win by beating FC Basel 1-0 in Switzerland.

The Portuguese superstar converted a Karim Benzema cutback 10 minutes before half-time at the St Jakob-Park as the reigning European champions, who had already qualified for the last 16, secured first place in Group B with five wins in five games.

Ronaldo’s goal allowed him to move level with former Madrid striker Raul as the tournament’s second-top scorer of all time, three behind Lionel Messi, who broke the record with a hat-trick for Barcelona against APOEL on Tuesday.

Arsenal into knockout stages

A convincing 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium helped Arsenal book their way into the knockout stages for the 15th successive season.

The Gunners were quick out of the blocks as Yaya Sanogo opened his Arsenal account in only the second minute of the match. New-signing Alexis Sanchez then curled in a superb effort from just outside the box to make it 2-0 in the second half to give Arsene Wenger’s men a chance of finishing top of the group going into the final round.

Dortmund have struggled in the Bundesliga but came into the match with a perfect record in the Champions League and a win would have sealed top spot for them. However, even a late rally was not enough for the Germans as Arsenal’s defence, which had let slip a three goal lead against Anderlecht in their last Champions League match, looked decidedly more assured than in their recent matches.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2014.

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