August 09, 2012
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Liverpool, Inter target European progress

Liverpool and Inter Milan head a cast of clubs ranging from former giants to barely heard of newcomers to the European stage as they target progress to the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday.

Stewart Downing's first leg winner at Belarus side Gomel gave Brendan Rodgers a winning start to his career as Liverpool coach and the five-time champions of Europe will expect to finish the job at Anfield.

Rodgers says he thinks the atmosphere at home will bring the best out of his side.

"Anfield is so inspiring - you see the flags and scarves and there is so much tradition and heritage at the place.

"That is the draw. That is why I came here.

"It is a club that can really go forward."

After three seasons away from the Champions League, Liverpool freely admit that in today's economic climate any European football is a bonus.

They do have an ace in the pack, however, in Uruguayan star Luis Suarez, who could feature having just finished Olympic commitments with his country.

Inter Milan, Champions League winners as recently as 2010, should also advance having already pulled off a comfortable 3-0 victory at Croatian club Hajduk Split in their first leg.

French side Marseille are another club to have lifted the European Cup and who must now negotiate murkier waters on the fringes of the continental club game.

Elie Baup, who has replaced Didier Deschamps as coach after the latter took over from Laurent Blanc as France coach, will seek to polish off Turkish club Eskisehirspor, who held them to a 1-1 draw in the opening game.

Guus Hiddink's Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala will fancy their chances with a 2-0 cushion as they travel to Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.

Scottish fans - who have existed on a diet of thin gruel in Europe in recent years, far removed from the halcyon days of Celtic, who became the first British side to lift the European Cup with their 1967 success over Inter, will look to Dundee United to pull off a shock away win to Dynamo Moscow, who held them 2-2 at Tannadice.

The Tangerines reached the final of what was then known as the UEFA Cup in 1987, only bowing to Gothenburg - they were also European Cup semi-finalists three years beforehand.

The winners of the 29 matches will go into the play-off round, where other qualifiers including PSV Eindhoven, Lazio and Newcastle will enter the fray, as will the 14 losers from the Champions League third qualifying round.

Thursday's Europa League third preliminary round, second leg fixtures (1st leg scores in brackets):

(1400 GMT)

Omonia (CYP) v Red Star Belgrade (SRB) (0-0)

Dynamo Moscou (RUS) v Dundee United (SCO) (2-2)

Elfsborg (SWE) v Horsens (DEN) (1-1)

Aktobe (KAZ) v Genk (BEL) (1-2)


Slaven Koprivnica (CRO) v Athletic Bilbao (ESP) (1-3)


Legia Warsaw (POL) v Ried (AUT) (1-2)

Rosenborg (NOR) v Servette (SUI) (1-1)

Metalurg Donetsk (UKR) v Tromso IL (NOR) (1-1)

Mlada Boleslav (CZE) v Twente (NED) (0-2)

Aalesunds (NOR) v APOEL Nicosie (CYP) (0-2)

Anorthosis Famagusta (CYP) v Dila Gori (GEO) (1-0)


Young Boys Berne (SUI) v Kalmar FF (SWE) (0-1)

Spartak Trnava (SVK) v Steaua Bucharest (ROM) (1-0)

Gent (BEL) v Videoton (HUN) (0-1)


Lech Poznan (POL) v AIK Solna (SWE) (0-3)

Zeta (MNE) v FK Sarajevo (BIH) (1-2)

Sparta Prague (CZE) v Admira Wacker (AUT) (2-0)

Mura (SLO) v Arsenal Kiev (UKR) (0-3)

Vitesse (NED) v Anzhi Makhachkala (RUS) (0-2)

Viktoria Plzen (CZE) v Ruch Chorzow (POL) (2-0)

PAOK Salonika (GRE) v Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv (ISR) (2-0)


Rapid Bucharest (ROM) v Heerenveen (NED) (0-4)

Hannover (GER) v St Patrick's Athletic (IRL) (3-0)

Bursaspor (TUR) v KuPS Kuopio (FIN) (0-1)


Marseille (FRA) v Eskisehirspor (TUR) (1-1)

Inter Milan (ITA) v Hajduk Split (CRO) (3-0)


Rapid Vienna (AUT) v FK Vojvodina (SRB) (1-2)

Liverpool (ENG) v Gomel (BLR) (1-0)


Maritimo (POR) v Asteras Tripolis (GRE) (1-1)



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