Liverpool Storms Into UEFA Europa League Playoffs, Downs FC Gomel 3-0

Liverpool Storms Into UEFA Europa League Playoffs, Downs FC Gomel 3-0Fabio Borini netted his first Liverpool goal, as the Reds clinched a place in the UEFA Europa League playoffs with a 3-0 win against FC Gomel.

Brendan Rodgers partnered the Italian with Luis Suarez for his first Anfield game as Reds manager and the pair combined for Liverpool's opener in the 21st minute.

The Reds won 4-0 on aggregate. Steven Gerrard tapped into an empty net minutes before half-time to add to Borini's opener before Glen Johnson fired a stunning volley past Vladimir Bushma to grab Liverpool's third on the night.

The home side started brightly and Anfield rose to its feet in anticipation every time Suarez jinked, whenever Lucas seized possession and when Borini shaped to shoot from the edge of the box in the third minute, only to see his effort blocked by a green and white shirt.

Gerrard demanded the ball constantly and stormed into an advanced role in behind the Gomel midfield. On nine minutes, Stewart Downing cut inside and slipped a pass into the skipper, who wrapped his right boot around the travelling ball and drilled it low into the arms of Bushma.

A sublime Liverpool move was to follow. Gerrard dummied a diagonal pass and sprinted onto the return ball from Suarez. Head raised, the captain surged towards goal before sliding a cutting pass through the Gomel defence to where the Uruguayan was poised to smash over the bar.

In the 18th minute, Borini thought he had opened his Liverpool goalscoring account when Downing dropped the shoulder, sped to the line and cut the ball back for him but his shot was blocked. Suarez then nudged the ball through the legs of Nikolai Kashevski before firing straight at Bushma.

The Reds were not to be denied for too much longer and, in the 21st minute, Suarez danced his way down the Anfield Road touchline and shot at goal. His strike bounced clear but Borini was alert to hammer the ball into the back of the newly-restored red net for a 1-0 lead.

Moments later the pair almost combined again to double the deficit. Suarez sprung the offside trap and squared a pass for Borini; however, just as the Italian shaped to tap home his second, Sergei Matveychik made a crucial interception.

Off the ball, the Reds harried the opposition into submission. The home crowd roared its approval when Lucas and Borini charged some 20 yards across the Anfield turf to close a Gomel full-back as Rodgers loudly spurred them on from his position in the dug-out.

More magic from Suarez gave Liverpool their second minutes before half-time. The Uruguayan dribbled his way through the heart of the Gomel defence and tapped the ball past the advancing Bushma to allow Gerrard a simple tap-in for 2-0.

Not long after the restart, Gerrard rattled the post as he looked to guide a deflected shot past Bushma. Moments later Borini released Suarez down the right flank and the Uruguayan arrowed an effort narrowly wide.

In the 71st minute, the Reds added a third. Suarez attempted to find Borini but the ball bobbled up and into the path of Johnson, who controlled with his knee before unleashing a stunning half-volley from 30 yards that flew past Bushma for the 3-0 lead.

Jamie Carragher was presented with a special glass Liverbird by former Reds manager Roy Evans before the match to commemorate his 700th Liverpool appearance a week ago in Belarus and he was introduced to rapturous applause with 15 minutes remaining.

Photo via Liverpoolfc.com

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