Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux: The Reds' qualify as comeback masks Mignolet error
Christian Benteke's superb performance helped Liverpool qualify with a win against Bordeaux. (Photo source: The Guardian)

Liverpool qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday night with a 2-1 win at home to Bordeaux.

The deadlock was broken in unusual fashion - Simon Mignolet penalised for holding on to the ball for too long in his area, with Bordeaux then scoring from the resulting indirect free-kick, Henri Saivet the man who blasted it into the top corner from 15 yards.

However, Liverpool went in at the break in the lead, with Christian Benteke's contributions heavily significant in this. The striker first won the penalty that allowed James Milner to equalise five minutes after Bordeaux went ahead, and then struck home brilliantly in first half stoppage time to turn the game around.

The Reds were able to comfortably see the game out at 2-1, and could have even added to their lead in the second half, with the French rarely troubling them on the night as they crashed out of the competition.

Liverpool have all the chances, but Bordeaux take the lead

Despite their incredible win over Manchester City at the weekend, Liverpool started the game rather shakily as Bordeaux pressed high up the pitch and put them in some difficult situations in their defensive third.

Fortunately for the hosts, they were composed when they needed to be though and some risky maneuvers didn't cost them at the back, and they even had the game's first real chance when Mignolet's clearance from his own goal found an onside Roberto Firmino. However, the Brazilian could not take the opportunity, producing a tame volley.

Though not at their sharpest, the best chances continued to fall to the Reds, with Benteke the next to come close as he volleyed into the sidenetting at the half's midway point.

With the home team sensing a goal was on its way, they were on their feet just before the half hour mark celebrating, albeit the linesman was quick to sit them back down as his flag was raised for offside.

It was Benteke who failed to time his run to perfection, with Jordon Ibe's through ball wonderfully weighted and the big Belgian's finish neat too, but the goal would not stand as the striker was clearly a couple of yards offside.

However, Bordeaux were the side who took the lead in comical fashion. Mignolet was at fault as he was penalised for holding onto the ball for too long in his area, keeping it for at least 20 seconds before finally releasing it. The French side were thus awarded an indirect free-kick from 15 yards out and Saivet took full advantage as he blasted the ball into the top corner.

Reds quick to turn things around

Liverpool weren't behind for long, however, as Milner equalised from the spot five minutes later. Benteke won the penalty as he was hauled to the ground in the box by captain Ludovic Sane, needlessly too as the that cross came in was nowhere near the towering forward. The referee didn't hesitate and neither did the Reds' captain, who coolly converted by sending the 'keeper the wrong way.

By half time, Mignolet's error had been forgotten too as his teammates saved his blushes by getting the Reds into a 2-1 lead. Benteke was the scorer of the second, his first touch setting the ball up perfectly to for him to lash home, and he did exactly that, firing in a powerful half-volley from the edge of the box with seconds remaining until the interval.

Bordeaux box under bombardment

Benteke should have added a third for his side just after half time, but he blazed his shot miles over the bar from about 12 yards out, ruining the good work from Firmino whose cut-back was perfect - unlike the finish at the end of it.

When he did have the finish minutes later too, he was again flagged up, tripping up his marker before finding the top corner in the box and being penalised for it.

The chances continued to come for Liverpool, with Joe Allen stinging the palms of Cedric Carrasso shortly after, whilst Ibe really should have found the back of the net 10 minutes into the second period after being put through on goal by Firmino's lovely headed pass, but the teenager went for power over placement and found the 'keeper in his way.

Visitors have nothing to show for final push

Bordeaux did get back into the game as it entered its final stages, though Liverpool remained comfortable even as their intensity dropped. 

Still, another goal seemed like it would be needed in order to ensure the win, and Milner looked like he could give them that when he entered the box with less than 20 minutes to go. However, he was forced wide and could only hit the sidenetting with his effort as the game slowly drew to a close.

The French side, despite chasing the game, rarely troubled Mignolet in the home goal, though they did have a big chance late on, Cheick Diabete bringing the ball down well in the area and getting ready to pull the trigger, only for Kolo Toure to get back in and block his shot at the last minute.

Mignolet would be forced into a save in stoppage time, parrying Saivet's free-kick away from danger to help his side to three points and a rather comfortable win in the end.

The Reds now qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League, whereas Bordeaux crash out, with Rubin Kazan and FC Sion now fighting for the second qualifying spot.

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