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02-18-2011, 11:09 AM #1
Liverpool draw, Ajax win in Europa LeagueThree-time winner Liverpool was fortunate to leave Sparta Prague with a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 match, but fellow former champions Ajax, FC Porto and CSKA Moscow emerged with away wins on Thursday.
Kenny Dalglish's first European match in charge of the Reds was a dull affair which Sparta shaded, with Leonard Kweuke and Kamil Vacek coming close for the hosts in the second half.
Ajax, the winner of Europe's second-tier competition in 1992 when it was called the UEFA Cup, thrashed Anderlecht 3-0 with goals by Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Mounir El Hamdaoui.
Czech striker Tomas Necid scored the winner for 2005 champion CSKA Moscow in a 1-0 victory at PAOK Salonika, and 2003 winner FC Porto beat Sevilla 2-1 thanks to Fredy Guarin's late strike.
Villarreal held on for 0-0 at 10-man Napoli but Zenit St. Petersburg, the 2008 champion which was the only team to win all six of its group-stage matches, lost 2-1 at Young Boys.
The second-leg matches in the competition's first knockout round are spread out over next week.
Dalglish's first stint as Liverpool manager was from 1985 to 1991, when the English giant was banned from European competition following a deadly riot in the 1985 European Cup final against Juventus at Heysel Stadium.
The 59-year-old Scot was hired for a second stint at the Reds last month and has sparked an upturn in fortunes, but the team's performance in Prague was reminiscent of those under his predecessor, the beleaguered Roy Hodgson....being a human...