Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/6/12
Liverpool progressed to the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday after Jordan Henderson fired his first goal of the season to give the Reds a deserved 1-0 win against Udinese. Only the efforts of former Liverpool goalkeeper Daniele Padelli stopped the Reds from scoring a handful of goals on the night, but the stopper was powerless to prevent Henderson rifling the ball past him in the 23rd minute. Brendan Rodgers‘ men went into the final Group A game at the Stadio Friuli knowing a win would see them through to the last 32 of the competition. After a cagey opening, the match in Italy came to life. Suso weaved between two defenders and arced a cross into the center, but Udinese drove the ball to safety, swept down the right channel and delivered into the middle, where Mathias Ranegie powered a header wide of Pepe Reina‘s goal. Moments later Roberto Pereyra sped towards the Liverpool defense, fixed his gaze on the Udinese shirts streaming into the middle but, without warning, sent the ball in an entirely different direction and dipping towards Reina, who palmed over the bar. Liverpool took the lead when Luis Suarez turned a corner towards the far post, Suso received the flick, glanced up and saw Henderson demanding the ball to feet. The Spaniard obliged and rolled it into his path and the No. 14 hammered past Padelli for 1-0. A flurry of activity just before the interval culminated in Suarez sending an overhead kick flying towards the roof of the net from close range, however Padelli somehow managed to push the ball behind. The Reds picked up where they left off in the second half. Suarez drew two defenders towards him, creating acres of space for Suso, who should have buried the ball when it was slid into his path yards from goal. Suarez then sent a swerving shot inches over the bar five minutes later. There was a scare for Liverpool when Pablo Armero spun away from Suso and sped towards goal only for Martin Skrtel to head his cross behind. From the subsequent corner, Ranegie towered above the Reds’ defense and sent a powerful header inches over Reina’s crossbar. Henderson thought he had grabbed his second just after the hour mark. Jonjo Shelvey won the ball back in the middle and fed Jose Enrique, who whipped an inch-perfect cross into the middle, where Henderson arrived and side-footed towards the top corner but Padelli saved again. A fine ball from Stewart Downing then found its way to Suarez, who controlled before taking on two players inside the six-yard box and poking the ball towards goal. Somehow Padelli turned it behind with an almost impossible stop. From then on it was a case of seeing the game out and after Giovanni Pasquale was shown a second yellow card for a dangerous tackle on substitute Raheem Sterling, the Reds held out for the win. Liverpoolfc.com journalists’ man of the match: Jordan Henderson.
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