x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hazard lights up Lille victory

Eden Hazard scored a late free-kick to give Lille a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of a Europa League last-16 match.

Eden Hazard scored a late free-kick to give Lille a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of a Europa League last-16 match. Having earlier had a goal ruled out for offside midway through the second half, the 19-year-old Hazard scored in the 84th minute with a curling freekick from the left which bounced in front of goalkeeper Pepe Reina and went past him. Lille could have added a second goal in the closing stages but substitute striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post from close range with Reina beaten. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard broke through in the last seconds but his shot was deflected just wide for a corner. The Lille midfielder Yohan Cabaye shot straight at Reina after just 10 seconds, and then Hazard skipped down the right but no one was there to turn in his cross as Lille started brightly against the five-time European Cup winner.

Liverpool created their first chance midway through the first half when Ryan Babel swapped passes with striker Fernando Torres down the right and his shot from just inside the penalty area was saved by goalkeeper Mickael Landreau. Shortly before halftime, Landreau kept out Gerrard's freekick and then dived low to his right to save a firm downward header from Torres. But Liverpool struggled to create further chances. Hazard, one of Europe's most highly rated young players, fooled Liverpool's midfield with a great piece of skill near the end of the first half, dragging the ball on his foot and spinning round before running at the heart of Liverpool's defence, but his shot was too weak to trouble Reina. After a quiet start to the second half, Babel tried his luck from wide out left but Landreau palmed his shot away. The Lille striker Pierre-Alain Frau turned neatly from 30 yards and almost caught Reina by surprise but the Spain goalie managed to punch his fierce shot away, while Cabaye came close with a dipping shot from similar range in the 70th. Reina then spilled substitute Stephane Dumont's shot and just grabbed the ball before Frau could turn it in as Lille got on top. Liverpool slipped to their second straight 1-0 defeat after losing to Wigan in the Premier League on Monday.

Sporting have held Atletico Madrid to a goalless draw despite having two men sent off in the first leg tie. Leandro Grimi was given a red card in the 30th minute after receiving a second caution for a challenge on Jose Antonio Reyes when the winger was bursting down the right. The defender Tonel was sent off in the 89th for pushing Atletico striker Sergio Aguero over. Aguero was in outstanding form but could not find the target. The Argentina international dribbled into the area in the 25th minute, going past two men before shooting just wide. He had several more chances throughout the game. The Portuguese visitors rarely threatened although in the 28th minute, Liedsen pounced on a defensive error and struck the post.