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Liverpool beats Udinese, through to Europa knockout stage

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Associated Press
12/6/2012 5:26:55 PM
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English sides Liverpool and Tottenham are through to the knockout stage of the Europa League after beating Udinese and Panathinaikos respectively on Thursday.

Steaua Bucharest, Stuttgart and FC Basel claimed the remaining berths in the last 32 to be played in February.

In Italy, Jordan Henderson scored midway through the first half to help Liverpool to a 1-0 win, and avenging the 3-2 loss to Udinese at Anfield in October.

"(Henderson) is a great lad and works hard and has come in over the last month and made a good contribution to the team," Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers said. "It was a very good finish and he was unfortunate not to get a second goal as the keeper made a wonderful save."

When Young Boys of Switzerland beat already-qualified Anzhi Makhachkala of Russa 3-1, Liverpool won Group A. All three teams finished on 10 points, but Liverpool had the best head-to-head record, followed by Anzhi.

Stuttgart advanced despite an embarrassing 1-0 defeat at home to Molde. It was runner-up to Group E winner Steaua Bucharest after the Romanian side drew 1-1 at Copenhagen. Stuttgart edged Copenhagen on head-to-head.

Udinese had a couple of decent chances before Liverpool took the lead in the 23rd minute with its first real opportunity. Luis Suarez headed on a corner and Suso passed it back for Henderson to rifle in through a crowd.

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Daniele Padelli pulled off several fantastic saves -- denying Henderson and Suarez -- to keep qualification still in question for Liverpool, which knew it had to at least match Young Boys' result.

Udinese's Giovanni Pasquale was sent off late on for a second bookable offence.

It almost ended badly for Liverpool in stoppage time as Antonio Di Natale sent a shot skimming over the crossbar with the last kick of the game.

"It was very close," Rodgers said. "Hopefully it is a sign we have a little bit of luck going our way because maybe a couple of months back that would have gone in and we would be out of the competition."

In Switzerland, Gonzalo Zarate gave Young Boys the lead in the 38th when his initial shot ricocheted around the area and back to him to slot home from a tight angle.

Anzhi Makhachkala levelled in first-half stoppage time with a controversial equalizer. Young Boys called loudly for offside but Odil Ahmedov appeared to be level as he received the ball, turned and fired in.

Moreno Costanzo doubled Young Boys' lead eight minutes after the break after Anzhi failed to deal with a cross.

Anzhi striker Lacina Traore was sent off 20 minutes from time for a second bookable offence before Alexander Gonzalez added a third for the home side in stoppage time.

Lazio finished as Group J winners after a comprehensive 4-1 win over Maribor. The Italian side progressed with Tottenham, which won 3-1.

Emmanuel Adebayor gave Spurs a 29th-minute lead as he beat the offside trap before firing into the bottom right corner. But Zeca headed Panathinaikos level nine minutes into the second half.

Tottenham restored its lead when Clint Dempsey's header hit the underside of the crossbar and went in off Panathinaikos goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.

Jermain Defoe sealed the match.

"When you play with good players they will always create chances for the forwards to score," Defoe said. "It's been good - not just me and Ade (Adebayor) - I think everyone played their part. Hopefully we can keep it going - it was a good victory."

In the tight Group E, Steaua needed only a point to advance and was reduced to 10 men at the start of the second half when Cristian Tanase was sent off for a second yellow card.

Raul Rusescu gave it the lead with a stunning shot from outside the area which took a slight deflection as it curled into the right side of the goal.

Copenhagen levelled three minutes from time through Igor Vetokele, but it was too little too late.

At Stuttgart, Davy Claude Angan ran from inside his own half to score the only goal in first-half stoppage time for Norway's Molde.

FC Basel went through after a goalless draw at already-qualified Genk.

It means Friday's postponed match between Videoton and Sporting Lisbon was rendered meaningless. The match was initially delayed shortly before kickoff as groundstaff struggled to drain the waterlogged pitch, but with rain still heavy it was decided to postpone the match.

Elsewhere, competition top-scorer Edinson Cavani scored his seventh in Napoli's 3-1 loss at home to PSV Eindhoven. Tim Matavz netted a hat trick to inflict Napoli's first home defeat in European competition in 18 years.

Liverpool celebrates (Photo: Dino Panato/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dino Panato/Getty Images)
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