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Belarus win for Rodgers' Reds

A rare Stewart Downing strike earned Liverpool a 1-0 win in the first-leg of their third-round Europa League qualifying tie against FC Gomel.

However, Brendan Rodgers' side weren't at their best by any stretch of the imagination.

The Merseyside club only had two shots on target and Gomel will feel unfortunate to not have earned themselves a draw, having dominated most of the game, with greater possession and a greater number of shots.

In his first competitive game, the new Liverpool boss named a strong starting line-up. Fabio Borini started after his £9m arrival from Roma whilst Joe Cole also started.

Cole would have been keen to impress Rodgers after being jettisoned on-loan at French side Lille last season but he made way for youngster Raheem Sterling midway through the first half with a hamstring injury.

Difficult start

However, if Liverpool were hoping for an easy ride, they weren't about to be given one as Gomel came out the blocks as fast as Usain Bolt.

Jamie Carragher, captain on his 700th appearance for the club, had to be alert when he timed a block to perfection as Aleksandr Alumona shaped to shoot.

Sergey Matsveychyk also went close when he shot from close range.

The Red's were lacklustre and couldn't get a single shot on Gomel's goal.

Fabio Borini worked hard up front, playing as a lone striker with Andy Carroll injured and Luis Suarez on Olympic duty, but Rodgers side were lacking a cutting-edge and were somewhat fortunate to make the breakthrough which came in the 61st minute through 28-year-old Downing.

Cutting in from the right the former Middlesbrough man fired a left-foot sizzler past the stranded Vladimir Bushma. This was only Downing's third goal for Liverpool since joining last summer.

Overall, Rodgers got the win that he wanted and just needs to finish the job off at Anfield, next Thursday, and he was pleased with the commitment from his new charges.

It will take time

After the game, new Liverpool boss Rodgers said:

"It will take time until Liverpool start playing the way Swansea did last season (tactically).

"Actually the way you play depends on the players you have.

"As for today I saw two things which were very important for me, I saw desire and commitment. I am very grateful to my players for a good game.

"This was my first competitive game in charge of Liverpool and for me it didn't really matter whether the game was played in Belarus or Brazil as I am really honoured to manage this side."

Dundee denied victory over Moscow

An injury-time goal from Alexander Kokorin left Dundee United heartbroken as Dinamo Moscow twice fought back to earn a draw at Tannadice.

United opened the scoring in the 37th minute when Willo Flood found the net.

Igor Semshov headed the visitors level but Keith Watson scrambled home United's second 14 minutes from time.

Dundee thought they earned a surpise victory but joy turned to despair when Kokorin's deflected shot looped over United keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak to level matters in injury time.

The two away goals will make the Russian side favourites to progress to the play-off round but the positive attacking display at Tannadice gives United hope for next Thursday's return leg in Moscow.

However, crowd trouble marred the early part of the match as rival supporters clashed.

EUROPA LEAGUE, THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND RESULTS, FIRST LEG

Anzhi Makhachkala 2-0 Vitesse Arnhem

KuPS Kuopio 1-0 Bursaspor

Arsenal Kiev 3-0 Mura 

Dila Gori 0-1 Anorthosis Famagusta

AIK Solna 3-0 Lech Poznan 

Apoel Nicosia 2-1 Aalesunds FK

Bnei Yehuda 0-2 Paok Salonika 

Kalmar 1-0 Young Boys

Ruch Chorzow 0-2 Plzen 

SV Ried 2-1 Legia Warsaw

Tromso 1-1 Metallurg Donestk

Heerenveen 4-0 Rapid Bucharest

FC Twente 2-0 Mlada Boleslav

Servette 1-1 Rosenborg

Steaua Bucharest 0-1 FC Spartak Trnava

Asteras Tripoli 1-1 Maritimo

Genk 2-1 FC Aktobe

Gomel 0-1 Liverpool

AC Horsens 1-1 Elfsborg 

Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Omonia Nicosia

Video Fehervar 1-0 AA Gent

Dundee Utd 2-2 Dinamo Moscow

Eskisehirspor 1-1 Marseille

Hajduk Split 0-3 Inter Milan

St Patrick's 0-3 Hannover 96

Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Slaven Belupo Koprivnica

FK Sarajevo 2-1 Zeta Golubovci

Vojvodina 2-1 Rapid Vienna

FC Trenkwalder Admira 0-2 Sparta Prague 

By Sam Mansfield

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