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Unirea Urziceni and Sporting Lisbon await Liverpool FC and Everton FC in Europa League

by Jamie McKay. Published Fri 18 Dec 2009 12:35, last updated: 18/12/09

Liverpool and Everton have been handed tricky ties in the Europa League knockout stages.

The Reds have been pitted against Romaninan outfit Unirea Urziceni, who are managed by former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu whilst Everton will pit their wits against Sporting Club Lisbon.

Rafael Bentiez's side will play Unirea Urziceni at Anfield on Thursday 18th February 2009 whilst David Moyes' troops entertain Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday 16th February with the return leg taking place a week later.

UEFA's rules and regulations state that teams competing from the same city in the same tournament have to play their games on different days due to policing which has angered the Toffees whose games will kick off at 5.00pm.

Robert Elstone, Everton's chief executive, said: "We battled UEFA extremely hard and made the obvious issues very clear indeed, trying every route to find an alternative. But the reality we were left with meant there was no other option."

Blues' secretary Dave Harrison added: "In circumstances like this UEFA have a stadium and cities clash document which quite clearly indicates the procedures that need to take place and the order of priority for eligibility.

"Unfortunately, as a result of those priorities Liverpool have staked a claim for the Thursday night standard Europa League kick-off time.

The same document makes it clear fixtures should be fulfilled on Tuesday with an 18:00 CET kick-off (5pm GMT) if they cannot be played on Thursday. We have managed to negotiate an extra 45 minutes beyond that time."

Kop boss Rafael Benitez knows the threat the Romanian's possess to the Reds after both sides were eliminated from the Champions League.

He said: "It will be a tough game because they were in the Champions League.

"I was following their group because I have some friends in Sevilla and so I know it will be difficult. But we are Liverpool and we have to have confidence.

"The main thing for me is that the game isn't until February so we have plenty of time to prepare and analyse the other team.

"We will be playing a side from another league and another level but winning their title means they are a good team. They went very close in the Champions League so we know it will be tough.

"For us every competition and every game is important and the Europa League gives us an opportunity to win a trophy. We will look to progress as far as we can."

Blues boss David Moyes was equally delighted with his side's return to Lisbon following a poor showing against Benfica.

He said: "I'm looking forward to it, back to Lisbon again.

"Last time we went there was disappointing but this time we will hopefully go there with a full team and be able to put on a better show.

"Sporting will be really tough, they have been in and around the Champions League in recent seasons."

Should Everton overcome Sporting, they will face the winner of Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray whilst the Reds could return to Istanbul if they beat Unirea and Fenebache defeat French club Lille.

Full draw:

First Knockout Stage

FC Rubin Kazan v Hapoel Tel Aviv
Athletic Club Bilbao v Anderlecht
FC Kopenhagen v Marseille
Panathinaikos v AS Roma
Atletico Madrid v Galatasaray
Ajax v Juventus
FC Bruges v Valencia.
Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk
LIVERPOOL v Unirea Urziceni
Hamburg v PSV Eindhoven
Villareal v Wolfsburg.
Standard Liege v FC Salzburg
FC Twente v Werder Bremen
Lille v Fenebache
EVERTON v Sporting Lisbon

Last 16

Club Brugge/Valencia v FC Twente/Werder Bremen
Ajax/Juventus v Fulham/Shakhtar
Lille/Fenerbahce v LIVERPOOL/Unirea
Panathinaikos/Roma v Standard Liege/Salzburg
Hertha Berlin/Benfica v Copenhagen/Marseille
A Madrid/Galatasaray v EVERTON/Sporting
Rubin/Hapoel v Villarreal/Wolfsburg
Hamburg/PSV v Athletic Bilbao/Anderlecht



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