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EUROPA LEAGUE - Round of 32: Liverpool narrowly through at expense of Augsburg

Liverpool are safely through to the Europa League's Round of 16 after edging Augsburg 1-0 at Anfield on Thursday night.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds were the recipients of a fortuitous early penalty, scored by James Milner, which in the end was enough to see them through to the next knockout phase of Europe's second tier competition a the expense of the German outfit.

The goal came about when a cross was sent in from the right flank by Jordan Henderson after a short corner and as Dominik Kohr headed clear, referee Clement Turpin pointed to the spot, presumably for handball.

Upon viewing the replay, there was definitely some contact with the arm but Kohr had inadvertently been knocked into the ball by teammate Caiuby suggesting that perhaps it was a harsh call.

Nonetheless, the decision was made and Milner stepped up to coolly slot beneath the outstretched left hand of Marwin Hitz to give the home side the lead.

The early goal gave Liverpool an enormous amount of confidence which saw them create a number of chances but were unable to hit the target until Philippe Coutino forced a neat save from Hitz after playing a one-two with Daniel Sturridge.

Kostas Stafylidis then forced Simon Mignolet into a palmed save before the busy Hitz was called upon to deny Roberto Firmino, Coutinho and Sturridge prior to the break.

Sturridge went inches from putting the Reds 2-0 up five minutes into the second half when firing just wide of the upright with his right foot prior to Mignolet's block to thwart Tobias Werner on 71 minutes just before Hitz came up with another crucial intervention when scrambling to hid right to keep out a wicked defection off Divock Origi's cross-shot.

Hitz once again saved his side when the ball kindly for Henderson whose pointblank effort was kept out by the Swiss keeper who was at his best for the visitors.

In the end, however, Milner;s penalty inside five minutes was enough to see the Merseysiders through as they now get set to focus on Sunday's Capital One Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley.

2015/16 EUROPA LEAGUE - Round of 32 first leg

Liverpool (ENG): 1 (James Milner (PEN) 5')
Augsburg (GER): 0
Anfield, Liverpool, England

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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