Juventus overwhelm Fulham, Lille put Liverpool in danger
A late goal gave Lille (photo) a 1-0 victory over English giants Liverpool in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie. Italy's Juventus defeated Fulham (3-1) as Valencia were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Werder Bremen.
AFP - Juventus assumed command of their Europa League last-16 tie against Fulham with a 3-1 first-leg win on Thursday, after beleaguered English giants Liverpool were beaten at Lille.
Juve took an early lead in Turin when centre-back Nicola Legrottaglie headed home from a ninth-minute corner before right-back Jonathan Zebina extended their advantage with a thunderous 25-yard effort.
Dickson Etuhu's deflected shot reduced the arrears but former France international David Trezeguet restored the home side's two-goal cushion by volleying home in first-half injury time after his shot came back off the post.
Valencia were held to a 1-1 draw at home to last season's runners-up Werder Bremen, who took a 24th-minute lead via a Torsten Frings penalty.
The hosts had Argentine midfielder Ever Banega dismissed in the second half for violent conduct but they drew level almost immediately through Juan Mata, who slotted home after Spain team-mate David Silva's shot was blocked.
A last-minute Hatem Ben Arfa header earned Marseille an impressive 1-1 draw at free-scoring Portuguese league leaders Benfica, while Panathiniakos, who eliminated Serie A heavyweights Roma in the last round, were beaten 3-1 at home by Standard Liege.
Lille followed compatriots Lyon's example, after Claude Puel's side stunned Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, by consigning Liverpool to a 1-0 defeat at the Stadium Lille-Metropole.
Liverpool, a disappointing sixth in the Premier League after losing 1-0 to Wigan on Monday, were short of fluency on an uneven playing surface and sank to defeat when Eden Hazard's 84th-minute free-kick drifted straight in from wide on the left-hand flank.
The Belgian youngster had been a constant torment with his purposeful running and his goal, albeit fortuitous, puts his side in the driving seat prior to the return match at Anfield on March 18.
"I have confidence we can beat anyone on a good day at Anfield," said Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez.
"I would be worried if the players hadn't worked as hard as they have. The fans will play a part, they will push and will be behind the team."
Benitez's Lille counterpart Rudi Garcia said his team still had work to do.
"Everyone thought we were out when the draw was made. Now, although nothing has been decided, it's a good result for us," he said.
"We have to score over there. The first leg should give us confidence and show us that we're capable of competing with such a big team."
Elsewhere, a delightful curling finish from Bosnian playmaker Zvjezdan Misimovic in the 67th minute earned Wolfsburg a 1-1 draw at Rubin Kazan in the battle of the reigning league champions from Germany and Russia.
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his first home goal for new club Hamburg as they defeated Anderlecht 3-1, with Jonathan Legear's superb free-kick on the stroke of half-time earning the visitors an away goal.
Sporting Lisbon secured a 0-0 draw at Atletico Madrid despite the 31st-minute dismissal of defender Leandro Grimi for two bookable offences and a straight red card for Tonel in the final minute.