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Correa leveller spoils Liverpool return

© AFP / by Ian WHITELL | Sevilla midfielder Joaquin Correa eyes the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on September 13, 2017

LIVERPOOL (AFP) - 

Roberto Firmino's first-half penalty miss proved costly for Liverpool as Joaquin Correa scored a dramatic equaliser to grab Sevilla 2-2 Champions League draw on Wednesday.

Anfield was in jubilant mood as the English club welcomed back Champions League football after a two-year absence, but it took Sevilla just four minutes to dampen the enthusiasm.

After Wissam Ben Yedder had given the Spanish side an early lead, goals from Firmino and Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead, only for Firmino to miss a penalty.

On the hour, Sevilla manager Eduardo Berizzo was dismissed for throwing the ball away from Liverpool's Joe Gomez as he tried to take a throw-in, but his disappointment was eased, thanks to Correa, on 72 minutes.

All four sides in Group E are level after the opening round of matches, as Maribor played out a 1-1 draw with Spartak Moscow in Slovenia.

The opening goal was the product of a poor defensive mistake by Dejan Lovren, who completely miskicked while trying to clear a cross from Sergio Escudero at his near post.

Instead of producing a routine clearance, the defender allowed the ball to run across the face of goal where Ben Yedder had the simple task of sliding the ball into an open net.

Following on from the weekend 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City, it was the worst possible start for Jurgen Klopp's side, although their attacking play was promising.

Emre Can had curled a shot directly at goalkeeper Sergio Rico inside the opening minute and Sadio Mane came closer still as his shot was saved low down by Rico.

- Firmino equaliser -

Firmino struck the important equaliser after 21 minutes following an incisive attack and a Jordan Henderson pass which sent Alberto Moreno away down the left.

He crossed low into the six-yard box, where Firmino lunged ahead of Gabriel Mercado to turn in the equaliser.

Minutes later, the Reds should have been in front after a blistering counter-attack ended with Mane playing Can clean through on goal only for the German international to roll his shot inches beyond the post.

But after 37 minutes, Klopp's side did take a grip of the contest when Salah shot them ahead in fortunate circumstances.

The Egyptian winger's attack into the Sevilla area broke down, but he showed great persistence to win the ball back from Steven N'Zonzi.

Salah's firm, first-time shot from over 20 yards took an unkind deflection off defender Simon Kjaer and looped over goalkeeper Rico and in.

Before the interval, the tie should have been over when defender Guido Pizarro appeared to handle, before hauling down Mane inside the Sevilla area.

Firmino strode up to take the penalty but, having sent Rico the wrong way, saw his effort rebound to safety off the right-hand post.

Even after that miss, the half ended with yet more domination from the hosts and another thrilling counter-attack which ended with Moreno being denied by the over-worked Rico.

Liverpool continued to press the visitors after the restart and, after Berizzo's dismissal, a Georginio Wijnaldum shot was well saved by the unsighted Rico through a crowded penalty area.

Sevilla levelled when substitute Luis Muriel was given far too much space in midfield and his through ball was met by Correa, who lifted a superb finish over Loris Karius.

Klopp brought on substitute Philippe Coutinho for the final 15 minutes, his first game for the club since failing to engineer a move to Barcelona, but the Brazilian made little impact.

Indeed, Muriel might have won the game as he got the better of Gomez and rolled a shot just wide, and the Liverpool youngster compounded his error seconds later with a second yellow card and subsequent dismissal.

by Ian WHITELL

© 2017 AFP