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Page last updated at 21:58 GMT, Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sparta Prague   0 - 0   Liverpool

Raul Meireles
Liverpool started well but could not maintain the possession they had early on

By Chris Whyatt

Solid Liverpool did not sparkle in Kenny Dalglish's first European match in charge of the club but remain well placed for the Europa League's last 16.

The visitors dominated early possession but failed to create any clear chances as Sparta's Manuel Pamic went close.

Glen Johnson poked a shot just wide after half-time but Liverpool, without injured captain Steven Gerrard, never looked like scoring in a drab match.

Yet they held tight late on as Kamil Vacek cracked a low drive wide.

On a night when temperatures dipped below freezing in the Czech capital, Dalglish's developing team - now unbeaten in their last seven matches - started brightly as every player sought to touch the ball.

Sparta, though, looked distinctly like a team who had just come out of hibernation having not played a competitive match following a near three-month winter break.

Though Liverpool took control, without ineligible Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez or talismanic Gerrard, they lacked penetration.

Lone striker David Ngog nearly burst though chasing Raul Meireles' instant attempted through-ball but was flagged offside while the French forward committed a foul when Fabio Aurelio released him.

Andrej Keric then whipped a high cross-shot over the bar with keeper Pepe Reina untroubled.

And Liverpool - still getting to grips with a more flexible tactical system than the one used by former boss Roy Hodgson - started to be opened up as a dangerous corner from Kamil Vacek's dangerous corner was followed up with a low shot which screamed just wide.

England right-back Glen Johnson was caught confused as Martin Abena threaded a superb pass inside him for Manuel Pamic to fire in a powerful shot from an acute angle.

But Reina palmed away the most clear cut chance of the first-half with no home strikers on hand to capitalise on any rebound.

Pamic soon needed treatment for a bloody nose, after which Johnson then drove at the Sparta defence but failed to get his shot off as the visitors continued to attempt to build passing moves from the back.

Dirk Kuyt was unlucky with a searching cross-field ball for Maxi Rodriguez after nice link-up play between Ngog and the always-alert Meireles.

But Sparta nearly found a way through after 30 minutes when Pamic skied a chance after Reina had flapped at a cross.

Marek Matejovsky then found the ball at his feet but when he tried to place a right-footed into the corner of the net Sotirios Kyrgiakos made an important block.

Midfielder Joe Cole trotted on for the injured Fabio Aurelio in the 36th minute before nearly setting up Ngog sharply, but his shot in the box was blocked by former West Ham United centre-back Tomas Repka.

Both Repka - who has been sent off 18 times in his career - and Ngog were shown yellow cards for a needless clash on the touchline, though the punishment for the Liverpool player appeared harsh.

Just before half-time the ever-industrious Kuyt should have done better with a Ngog knock-down but the Dutchman failed to connect on the spin just six yards out.

The slow pace of the match did not alter as the second half got under way.

Looking more comfortable than before the break, Johnson impressively slalomed his way to the right byeline to stand a cross up but Jaromir Blazek leapt to pluck the ball from Ngog's cocked head.

Cameroonian striker Leonard Kweuke then headed wide as Sparta carved out a decent opening.

Johnson again went close soon after but, after picking up a long pass on the right wing, he cut inside before trying to poke a curled shot inside the post with the outside of his right boot when a left-footed shot appeared the better option.

With 15 minutes remaining and a goalless draw looking like a good result to take into the second leg, Reina showed superb anticipation to make smart low save from Kweuke's spin-and-shot from 10 yards.

Keeping a clean sheet looked paramount as centre back Martin Skrtel replaced Ngog late on.

Yet this defensive ploy only invited pressure as 18-year-old midfielder Vacek jinked free outside the box before lashing a shot just past the post as Reina scrambled across his goal.

The second leg takes place at Anfield on 24 February with Lech Poznan or Braga awaiting the winner of the last-32 tie.

Live text and stats

 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Europa League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Sparta Prague 0-0 Liverpool FT
(HT 0-0)

      Sparta Prague

      • 29 Blazek
      • 02 Repka yellow card
      • 21 Brabec
      • 38 Abena
      • 03 Pamic
      • 08 Matejovsky (Pekhart 90+2)
      • 13 Kusnir
      • 25 Vacek
      • 09 Leonard Kweuke
      • 14 Kadlec (Zeman 89)
      • 40 Keric (Sionko 73)

      Substitutes

      • 01 Zitka,
      • 19 Bondoa,
      • 27 Husek,
      • 05 Podany,
      • 07 Sionko,
      • 22 Zeman,
      • 41 Pekhart

      Liverpool

      Substitutes

      Ref: MeyerAtt: 17,564
      SPARTA PRAGUE
      LIVERPOOL

      Possession

      • Sparta Prague 50%
      • Liverpool 50%

      Attempts on target

      • Sparta Prague 4
      • Liverpool 0

      Attempts off target

      • Sparta Prague 9
      • Liverpool 3

      Corners

      • Sparta Prague 2
      • Liverpool 4

      Fouls

      • Sparta Prague 16
      • Liverpool 13
      • Final Result
      • Full Time
      • 90:00+3:12 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
      • 90:00+1:23 Erich Brabec takes the free kick.
      • 90:00+1:23 Substitution Tomas Pekhart on for Marek Matejovsky.
      • 90:00+1:23 Leonard Kweuke fouled by Leiva Lucas, the ref awards a free kick.
      • 90:00+0:41 Rodriguez Maxi fouled by Tomas Repka, the ref awards a free kick. Rodriguez Maxi takes the free kick.
      • 89:30 Dirk Kuyt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ondrej Kusnir. Ondrej Kusnir restarts play with the free kick.
      • Correction - 88:33 Substitution (Sparta Prague) makes a substitution, with Martin Zeman coming on for Vaclav Kadlec.
      • 88:33 Substitution Martin Zeman on for Vaclav Kadlec.
      • 85:05 Long distance shot from Kamil Vacek misses to the left of the target.
      • 84:03 Corner taken right-footed by Joe Cole, Unfair challenge on Jaromir Blazek by Sotirios Kyrgiakos results in a free kick. Jaromir Blazek restarts play with the free kick.
      • Correction - 82:47 Substitution Martin Skrtel comes on in place of David Ngog.
      • Correction - 82:47 Dirk Kuyt is ruled offside.
      • 82:47 Jaromir Blazek takes the direct free kick.
      • 82:47 Substitution David Ngog leaves the field to be replaced by Martin Skrtel.
      • 82:47 Dirk Kuyt is flagged offside by the assistant referee.
      • 82:12 The official flags Vaclav Kadlec offside. Jose Reina takes the free kick.
      • 81:28 Effort on goal by Marek Matejovsky from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
      • 80:48 Ondrej Kusnir takes the free kick.
      • 80:48 Booking Joe Cole goes into the book.
      • 80:38 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Martin Abena by Joe Cole.
      • Correction - 76:14 Dirk Kuyt is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Jaromir Blazek restarts play with the free kick.
      • 76:14 Dirk Kuyt is caught offside. Tomas Repka restarts play with the free kick.
      • 75:18 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Kamil Vacek, Leonard Kweuke takes a shot. Save by Jose Reina.
      • 72:57 Substitution Libor Sionko replaces Andrej Keric.
      • 70:46 Effort on goal by Leonard Kweuke from just inside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the target.
      • 70:10 Inswinging corner taken by Joe Cole, Leonard Kweuke makes a clearance.
      • 69:04 Effort from the edge of the box by Glen Johnson goes wide of the left-hand post.
      • 67:22 Joe Cole is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Kamil Vacek, comfortable save by Jose Reina.
      • 66:47 Foul by Rodriguez Maxi on Ondrej Kusnir, free kick awarded. Ondrej Kusnir takes the free kick.
      • 63:30 Unfair challenge on Rodriguez Maxi by Ondrej Kusnir results in a free kick. Danny Wilson takes the free kick.
      • 62:03 Header by Leonard Kweuke from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
      • 60:24 Kamil Vacek takes a shot. Leiva Lucas gets a block in.
      • 59:26 David Ngog is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Erich Brabec.
      • 58:34 The ball is crossed by Glen Johnson.
      • 55:33 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Ngog by Tomas Repka. Glen Johnson takes the free kick.
      • 54:26 Glen Johnson crosses the ball, save made by Jaromir Blazek.
      • 53:33 David Ngog fouled by Tomas Repka, the ref awards a free kick. Glen Johnson takes the direct free kick.
      • 52:50 Manuel Pamic fouled by David Ngog, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Manuel Pamic.
      • 52:10 Foul by Manuel Pamic on Leiva Lucas, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jose Reina.
      • 49:37 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rodriguez Maxi by Kamil Vacek. Jamie Carragher takes the free kick.
      • 48:50 Foul by Jamie Carragher on Vaclav Kadlec, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Kamil Vacek.
      • 47:54 Leonard Kweuke concedes a free kick for a foul on Sotirios Kyrgiakos. Sotirios Kyrgiakos takes the free kick.
      • 45:28 Danny Wilson concedes a free kick for a foul on Martin Abena. Ondrej Kusnir restarts play with the free kick.
      • 45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
      • Half Time
      • 45:00+0:24 It is the end of the first-half.
      • 44:11 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Abena on David Ngog. Rodriguez Maxi takes the direct free kick.
      • 42:54 Corner taken by Raul Meireles, David Ngog has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the goal.
      • 42:05 Leonard Kweuke produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
      • 40:52 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tomas Repka by David Ngog. Jaromir Blazek takes the free kick.
      • 40:25 Leonard Kweuke challenges Dirk Kuyt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jose Reina takes the free kick.
      • 38:54 Free kick taken by Jaromir Blazek.
      • 38:54 Booking David Ngog goes into the book.
      • 38:45 Booking Tomas Repka goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
      • 38:24 Tomas Repka fouled by David Ngog, the ref awards a free kick.
      • 37:53 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tomas Repka on Dirk Kuyt. Dirk Kuyt restarts play with the free kick.
      • 37:39 Foul by Dirk Kuyt on Marek Matejovsky, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Manuel Pamic.
      • 37:03 Substitution Joe Cole comes on in place of Fabio Aurelio.
      • 36:14 Kamil Vacek gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Raul Meireles. Direct free kick taken by Jamie Carragher.
      • 35:37 Marek Matejovsky has an effort at goal from 18 yards. Sotirios Kyrgiakos gets a block in.
      • 34:04 The ball is delivered by Ondrej Kusnir, Effort on goal by Manuel Pamic from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
      • 31:22 David Ngog concedes a free kick for a foul on Tomas Repka. Tomas Repka takes the direct free kick.
      • 28:22 Shot from just outside the area by Fabio Aurelio misses to the left of the target.
      • 25:37 Unfair challenge on Martin Abena by Leiva Lucas results in a free kick. Marek Matejovsky takes the direct free kick.
      • 24:09 The referee blows for offside against Raul Meireles. Jaromir Blazek restarts play with the free kick.
      • 22:17 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tomas Repka on Dirk Kuyt. Glen Johnson crosses the ball in from the free kick.
      • 19:16 David Ngog is ruled offside. Jaromir Blazek restarts play with the free kick.
      • 17:42 Shot by Manuel Pamic. Jose Reina makes a save.
      • 15:53 Marek Matejovsky produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the goal.
      • 15:25 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Kamil Vacek from the left by-line, Sotirios Kyrgiakos makes a clearance.
      • 15:06 Centre by Manuel Pamic, clearance by Glen Johnson.
      • 13:33 Corner taken by Raul Meireles.
      • 12:39 Andrej Keric produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
      • 11:20 Foul by Martin Abena on Leiva Lucas, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Leiva Lucas.
      • 10:10 The offside flag is raised against David Ngog. Jaromir Blazek restarts play with the free kick.
      • 7:45 Long range effort from Leonard Kweuke misses to the left of the goal.
      • 7:02 Sotirios Kyrgiakos fouled by Martin Abena, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
      • 5:51 The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
      • 3:40 Unfair challenge on Rodriguez Maxi by Kamil Vacek results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Fabio Aurelio.
      • 2:33 Free kick awarded for a foul by Kamil Vacek on Leiva Lucas. Leiva Lucas takes the direct free kick.
      • 0:00 The game begins.

      Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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      Europa League results

      17 Feb 2011 23:59 UK

      • Anderlecht0-3Ajax
        FT
      • Basle2-3Spartak Moscow
        FT
      • BATE Borisov2-2Paris SG
        FT
      • Benfica2-1VfB Stuttgart
        FT
      • Besiktas1-4Dynamo Kiev
        FT
      • FC Metalist Kharkiv 0-4Bayer Leverkusen
        FT
      • Lech Poznan1-0Braga
        FT
      • Lille2-2PSV Eindhoven
        FT
      • Napoli0-0Villarreal
        FT
      • PAOK Salonika0-1CSKA Moscow
        FT
      • Rangers1-1SportingFT
      • Rubin Kazan0-2FC Twente
        FT
      • Sevilla1-2FC Porto
        FT
      • Sparta Prague0-0LiverpoolFT
      • Young Boys2-1Zenit St P'sbg
        FT


      see also
      Dalglish seeks Reds cutting edge
      17 Feb 11 |  Liverpool
      Europa League as it happened
      17 Feb 11 |  Football
      Liverpool 'must improve academy'
      30 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
      Liverpool sign Sterling from QPR
      27 Feb 10 |  Liverpool


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