Sport : Football

Mixed bag for British teams

23rd August 2012, 09:55pm

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Fabio Borini celebrates Andy Webster's own goal

Fabio Borini celebrates Andy Webster's own goal

An own-goal from Andy Webster was all that separated the two sides as Liverpool scraped a narrow 1-0 victory over Hearts in the first leg of their Europa League play-off at Tynecastle.

The Edinburgh side impressed for much of the tie before suffering a late blow against their Barclays Premier League visitors, who made the trip across the border without a number of star players.

The result was far more credible than Hearts' 5-0 thrashing against Tottenham at the same venue last season and at least provides some hope ahead of the second leg at Anfield next week.

Andy Carroll failed to make the Reds squad for the game - despite his presence at the stadium - as a question mark remained over his Liverpool future, with the £35million striker linked with a return to Newcastle.

Elsewhere, Ryan Taylor spared Newcastle's blushes with a fine free-kick to give them a slight advantage as they drew 1-1 in the away leg of their clash with Atromitos.

A year and three days after he fired the Magpies to derby victory at Sunderland, he produced a set-piece of similar quality in first-half injury time to cancel out Denis Epstein's 24th-minute opener and ensure that his side returned to Tyneside knowing a victory of any description, or even a 0-0 draw, will send them through to the group stage.

That may have been less than manager Alan Pardew's ambitions before kick-off but, having made nine changes to the side which beat Tottenham 2-1 at the weekend, he saw his side put in a distinctly ordinary opening 45 minutes after which a draw was not the worst result.

Pardew, whose side face a tough trip to Chelsea on Saturday, handed striker Adam Campbell a late cameo and, in the process, made him the club's youngest European debutant at 17 years and 236 days - 64 days younger than Andy Carroll was when he played in Palermo.

Shaun Hutchinson was sent off as Motherwell suffered an all-too-familiar 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their clash with Levante.

Just like their Champions League clash against Panathinaikos at Fir Park, Well conceded a soft first-half goal before being caught out after a spell of sustained pressure of their own.

Levante, who finished sixth in La Liga last season after briefly topping the table in late October, pushed Motherwell back in the first half but they were gifted a 42nd-minute opener as Juanlu ran from deep to net as the home defence waited for an offside flag.

Well improved significantly and Henrik Ojamaa had two good chances but the visitors carved out a second for substitute Nabil El Zhar in the 62nd minute and killed the game off before Hutchinson was dismissed for a last-man challenge.

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