EUROPA LEAGUE

Reds relief as late own goal breaks Hearts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 3:17am
 

Liverpool scraped a 1-0 win over Hearts while a Newcastle side shorn of several familiar faces survived sweltering heat to hold Greek side Atromitos to a 1-1 draw in their Europa League play-off round first legs.

Liverpool needed an own goal from Andy Webster with 12 minutes remaining at Tynecastle to see off Hearts in the absence of several first teamers, including England forward Andy Carroll - persistently linked with a return to Newcastle.

Carroll, nursing a sore hamstring, was not even on the bench as coach Brendan Rodgers fielded Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling in attack. The Reds also left out Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson with Manchester City to visit in the league tomorrow.

Liverpool made the breakthrough when Martin Kelly sent in a challenging cross from the right that Borini was unable to connect with only for the unfortunate Webster to deflect into his own net.

Veteran Jamie Carragher praised Liverpool's youngsters, particularly their young striker Sterling.

"This club's got a great tradition of bringing young players through and the way the manager wants to play suits him [Sterling] down to the ground," said Carragher. "He's come in and done really well and at the age of 17 it looks like he's got a big future."

Newcastle were playing in Europe for the first time in five years but coach Alan Pardew made nine changes from the side who beat Tottenham in their opening Premier League match last weekend to give fringe players some game time.

The new faces included Adam Campbell, a second-half substitute who became the Magpies' youngest European debutant at 17 years and 236 days - 64 days younger than former favourite Carroll when he played in Palermo in 2006.

Another getting a rare game was former first choice keeper Steve Harper, who at 37 was handed a start with Dutch international Tim Krul giving way.

"In the second half, I was a little bit disappointed we didn't get the win - I thought there were good opportunities - but overall, I was very, very pleased with the performance," said Pardew, who also gave youngsters Romain Amalfitano and James Tavernier chances to prove themselves.

Harper was unable to keep a clean sheet as German striker Denis Epstein gave the hosts the lead before Ryan Taylor fired home a free-kick in first half stoppage time to give Newcastle a good chance of reaching the group stage with the home leg to come.

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