Football: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has called on the Kop to roar the Reds on to victory at Anfield tomorrow night as they bid to overturn a two-goal deficit against Zenit St Petersburg.
Three minutes of second-half defensive madness undid Brendan Rodgers’s side in the first leg at the Petrovsky Stadium last week, with the Russian champions running out 2-0 victors.
But Gerrard, a veteran of numerous glorious European nights at Anfield, believes that the Liverpool supporters can help them pull through as they bid to make the Europa League last 16.
He said: “I already know they will be up for the game but if I could urge them to get into the ground as early as they can and make as much noise as they can, then it will make our job an awful lot easier on Thursday because they are so important. Hopefully there’ll be a top team performance from us — that’s how we want it to pan out.”
In Zenit, the Reds face a star-studded side fresh from a lengthy winter break, as well as a team hungry to get their hands on a trophy they first won in 2008.
Yet Gerrard feels that the Kop can give his side the edge. “The fans have got a big part to play and if they can create that hostile atmosphere, like they have done many times before, it won’t be easy for Zenit,” he added.
Stopper Martin Skrtel is unlikely to face his old club at Anfield due to a knee problem while forwards Fabio Borini (dislocated shoulder), Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho (both ineligible) also miss out.
In France Tottenham have a potentially difficult evening in store as they seek to defend a 2-1 first-leg advantage at Lyon.
Gareth Bale’s late free-kick at White Hart Lane a week ago gave Spurs the slimmest of advantages going into tomorrow’s clash at Stade de Gerland, but midfielder Scott Parker has insisted that they can take nothing for granted.
“We know it will be tough,” he said. “They are well-organised with a wealth of Champions League experience and some very good players.”
Spurs are without Younes Kaboul (knee) and Jermain Defoe (ankle), who is the club’s top scorer in continental combat this term, while Tom Huddlestone (knee) is a doubt.
Elsewhere Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard will have to wait a little longer to net his 200th goal for the Blues, with interim manager Rafa Benitez opting to rest him for the visit of Sparta Prague.
Lampard, who is just three goals shy of the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Bobby Tambling, is rested along with Branislav Ivanovic for the second leg of the tie, which Chelsea lead 1-0.
Newcastle chief Alan Pardew has included January signings Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga Mbiwa and Moussa Sissoko in his side for their second leg tie at Metalist Kharkiv after being held 0-0 at home.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.