Europa League: Liverpool beat Udinese to reach last 32

Jordan Henderson scored his first European goal and clinched victory for Liverpool against Udinese on Thursday. Henderson's strike midway through the first half made sure the Reds finished top of Group A and qualified alongside Russian moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala. Luis Suarez could have added further insurance on the result as he twice went close to doubling the lead, while Henderson was also denied a second goal. The home side had Giovanni Pasquale sent off while captain Antonio Di Natale fired just over the bar seconds before the final whistle.

Liverpool knew victory in Italy offered the only guarantee of progress and Brendan Rodgers fielded a strong line-up. That decision seemed to pay off but it was Udinese who had the first good chance of the match as Ranegie came close with a header before goalkeeper Reina denied Pereyra's shot. Liverpool were threatening as well and the reward came midway through the first half when Henderson fired a low finish that went through the legs of the keeper and into the back of the net. Then the Reds scored another one but it was disallowed as Downing was in an offside position. Udinese started pressing forward but the Liverpool defence stood firm and the visitors nearly clinched a second goal when Suarez went close with a beautiful overhead kick just before half time.

Udinese resumed their attacks after the break but Ranegie headed over before Suarez and Henderson were denied by goalkeeper Padelli at the other end of the pitch. Things got even worse for the Italians as they lost Pasquale to a red card but they could still have clinched the equaliser through veteran Di Natale who fired over from a perfect position.

Liverpool advance to the last 32 and Bet365 have them at 14/1 to win the Europa League this season, with the same odds given to Inter Milan, Tottenham and Anzhi Makhachkala.

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