Milner spot on against Augsburg

James Milner (Official Liverpool Twitter)
James Milner (Official Liverpool Twitter)

Cape Town - An early penalty from James Milner was enough for Liverpool to progress in the Europa League with a 1-0 win over Augsburg at Anfield on Thursday.

The Reds were given a fifth-minute penalty after Caiuby and Dominik Kohr got in each other's way while trying to defend a corner, with the latter handling ball and conceding the spot kick. James Milner then stepped up and fired it into the bottom right corner.

The Reds pressed on after taking the lead, subjecting their visitors to a barrage of shots from the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino before, in the 22nd minute, Philippe Coutinho linked up with Sturridge to work a close-range shot that forced goalkeeper Marwin Hitz into a fantastic save.

Firmino then linked up with full-back Nathaniel Clyne, with a clever back heel setting up the Englishman to fire a shot at goal that was deflected away. With the half-hour mark approaching Hitz was called into action yet again when Firmino met Alberto Moreno's cross with a volleyed effort that needed to be tipped over, before Coutinho danced his way into space in the box and released a low effort straight at him.

In the 36th minute it was Augsburg's chance to threaten when Lucas Leiva under hit a back pass that Caiuby was able to pounce on to go one-on-one with Simon Mignolet. He rounded the Belgian goalkeeper but defender Mamadou Sakho got back to clear it off the line.

With five minutes to go before halftime the ball was back at the other end, with Hitz again the saviour for the German side when Coutinho pulled it back from the byline for Sturridge, whose close-range effort was pushed against the post and out by the busy Swiss goalkeeper.

The Reds continued their trigger-happy approach in the second half, with Coutinho taking the ball down on his chest and releasing an audacious volley that flew just wide, before Sturridge picked up possession near the corner of the box and looked to curl one in, only to see it deflected out for a corner.

Mignolet had to stay alert at the other end, and was called into action in the 71st minute to rush off his line to make a crucial interception and thwart Tobias Werner, who was through on goal after picking up a loose ball. A couple of minutes later and the Reds almost finished off the game when Coutinho's effort was deflected over the crossbar.

There were further efforts from Liverpool, while Kostas Stafylidis came close to an equaliser with an 89th-minute free kick that sailed just wide of the top corner, but Milner's penalty proved to be the difference between the two sides.

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