Champions League: Liverpool nab late winner

Mario Balotelli scored his debut goal and skipper Steven Gerrard nabbed the late winner via a penalty.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard converts from the penalty spot for the winning goal against Ludogorets in the the Uefa Champions League on 17 September 2014. Picture: Official LFC Facebook page.

LIVERPOOL - After five years away, Champions League drama returned to Anfield like a long lost friend on Tuesday as Liverpool beat debutants Ludogorets of Bulgaria 2-1 with Steven Gerrard scoring a last-gasp penalty.

All three goals came towards the end of a pulsating Group B game and, fittingly, it was Liverpool skipper Gerrard, the last remaining hero of their famous 2005 Champions League final victory over AC Milan in Istanbul, who scored the winner.

The midfielder fired home his 40th European goal in the last minute of stoppage time.

But this was no classic to rank alongside that win or other victories at Anfield over the likes of Olympiakos or Chelsea before they took a leave of absence from the competition in 2009.

This was a hard-fought victory after an achingly frustrating night with the Anfield faithful having to endure typical nail-biting tension before going home happy.

Italy striker Mario Balotelli, with his first goal for the club since his move from AC Milan, broke Ludogorets' resistance after 82 minutes, only for Liverpool to self-implode on the stroke of full-time when Dani Abalo took advantage of poor play by Simon Mignolet to round the keeper and equalise for the visitors.

With a draw looking inevitable, Canadian international keeper Milan Borjan, who only joined Ludogorets last week to solve a goalkeeping crisis, then made a terrible mistake at the other end, failing to clear a backpass, losing the ball, tangling with Javi Manquillo and giving away a penalty.

Gerrard, so deadly from the spot, made no mistake to score the winner seconds before the final whistle blew.


Borussia Dortmund comfortably beat Arsenal 2-0 to launch their Champions League Group D campaign with a dominant performance that saw them overwhelm their error-prone opponents on Tuesday.

Dortmund, losing finalists in 2013, took control of Group D on three points with Galatasaray and Anderlecht drawing 1-1 in Turkey in the other game in the section.

Italian forward Ciro Immobile, who until Tuesday had yet to score for Dortmund since joining in an 18 million euros ($23.33 million) move from Torino, gave the hosts a deserved lead on the stroke of halftime with a superb solo effort as they controlled possession and set the pace for much of the first half.

Winger Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who terrorised the Arsenal defence with his speed and also hit the post, added another goal after the break as the Germans, missing several players through injury, avenged last season's home loss to the English side.


Group A

Juventus 2-0 Malmö FF

Olympiakos 3-2 Athletico Madrid

Group B

Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets Razgrad

Real Madrid 5-1 FC Basel

Group C

Benfica 0-2 Zenit St Petersburg

Monaco 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Group D

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal

Galatasaray 1-1 Anderlecht


Group E

Bayern Munich V Man City

Roma V CSKA Moscow

Group F

Ajax V PSG

Barcelona V Apoel Nicosia

Group G

Chelsea V FC Schalke 04

NK Maribor V Sporting Lisbon

Group H

Athletico Bilbao V Shakhtar Donetsk

FC Porto V BATE Borisov