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Friday 03 August 2012

Downing gives Liverpool Europa League edge

Stewart Downing's strike earns Liverpool a UEFA Europa League advantage against Gomel

Stewart Downing scored Liverpool's first leg winner against Gomel

FC Gomel 0-1 Liverpool

Stewart Downing's second-half strike got Brendan Rodgers' tenure off to a winning start as Liverpool edged a 1-0 victory against FC Gomel in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.

Downing struck in the 67th minute of the encounter in Belarus to earn his side a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at Anfield on August 9th.

Liverpool, whose midfielder Joe Cole limped off after 23 minutes with a suspected hamstring injury, were under pressure for much of the match against a side midway through their domestic season.

The closest the hosts came to scoring was when Sergey Kozeka rattled a shot against the post with goalkeeper Brad Jones beaten, but Gomel were punished for their profligacy after the break when Downing cut inside from the right and fired into the left-hand corner of the net from 25 yards out.

Should Liverpool, who qualified for this season's UEFA Europa League by winning the Carling Cup, overcome the Belarusian side on aggregate they will reach the play-off stage, which they will need to negotiate to reach the group stage.

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Key Points

  • Stewart Downing scores winner in Belarus
  • Brendan Rodgers' side off to a winning start in UEFA Europa League
  • Liverpool's Joe Cole suffers suspected hamstring injury