Europa League: Liverpool secure vital home win against Anzhi

A Stewart Downing goal gave Liverpool an Europa League victory over Russian moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala and lifted them to the top of the Group A standings. Downing scored the only goal of the match after the break when he cut in from the left flank and powered an angled drive past goalie Vladimir Gabulov. Daniel Agger produced an interesting moment when he headed the ball out of the keeper's hand and into the net but the goal was ruled out. The expensively assembled Anzhi produced a disappointing display, with star striker Samuel Eto'o having the best chance, but it was just an easy save for the Liverpool goalie.

The Russian club is currently paying the biggest wages in world football, with former Barcelona and Inter star Eto'o earning a staggering £250,000 a week. But money doesn't necessarily produce good football every day and Liverpool claimed a vital win, both for their Europa League campaign and for their morale ahead of this weekend's derby clash with arch rivals Everton.

The Reds were in control of the game from the first minute to the last, with Jonjo Shelvey having the first missed chance of the game, created by Luis Suarez. The Uruguay striker produced another chance later on when he picked out Glen Johnson with a clever pass but but the fullback failed to control the ball. Nuri Sahin and Agger created two more chances for Liverpool before the break but the score remained level at half time.

Martin Skrtel tested the visiting goalie after the re-start, before Steven Gerrard blew a pretty good chance as he headed wide from a Shelvey cross. However, Stewart Downing made up for that miss a few minutes later as fired a great right-footed shot into the far bottom corner of the net. Then Suarez came close to making it 2-0 while Agger's unusual effort was ruled out after he headed the ball home off the keeper's hand. Anzhi were unbeaten in 13 games coming into this match.

Liverpool lead the group table on 6 points, followed by Anzhi and Udinese with four points apiece and Young Boys with 3 points. Bet365 have Liverpool at 14/1 to win the Europa League this season while Anzhi are priced at 16/1.

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