Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reina boo-boo blunder ...but Reds still qualify for round of 32

BUCHAREST: Liverpool reached the last 32 of the Europa League when they drew 1-1 with Steaua Bucharest in a Group K tie in Romania this morning — despite goalkeeper Pepe Reina's blunder.

Midfielder Milan Jovanovic's goal in the 19th minute via a header was cancelled out when Reina allowed Eder Bonfim's effort to escape his grasp and creep over the line.

A point would have been enough to put Roy Hodgson's side through but Utrecht's 3-3 draw with Napoli ensured they could not be caught at the top of the table with a match still to play.

Hodgson put his faith in fringe players and reserves having travelled to Romania without eight first-team players and he was rewarded by the likes of Jovanovic and Ryan Babel.

Neither has made much of an impression to date in their Anfield careers, although Jovanovic admittedly has only had a little more than four months to settle in.

However, they produced decent performances this morning to assist the visitors.

Meanwhile, Reina accepted responsibility for Steaua's equaliser but remains happy with his side's qualification.

"I thought one of their players was offside for the goal but I've watched replays and it's my fault. It's my mistake and I have to handle that and get through," Reina told ESPN.

"He was definitely obstructing me, but I should have reacted much better than I did. I will handle the mistake and improve."

Reina praised the younger players — including the likes of Martin Kelly, Danny Wilson, Dani Pacheco and Jonjo Shelvey — for earning the point.

"We have to give them some credit because we made a great effort.

"We have players out there with not much experience and they showed great character and helped us get the point we needed," said Reina, who was the captain this morning.

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