Liverpool scraped into the last 16 of the Europa League thanks to a slender 1-0 win over Augsburg in the second leg of their round-of-32 tie at Anfield on Thursday night.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side could have been a few goals to the good as they had 24 attempts, but it was an early penalty from James Milner that proved to be enough.
It was a tense end to the match as the visiting side knew that just one away goal would have been enough to secure their place in the next phase of the competition, but it was not to be.
It was the perfect start for Liverpool as the referee awarded the hosts a penalty in the fifth minute after Dominik Kohr handled in the area.
The ball scraped the arm of the midfielder, who almost clashed with his own teammate in the process, and Milner stepped up to take the spot-kick.
Goalkeeper Marwin Hitz went the right way, but he could not get anything on the ball as it nestled into the bottom corner.
The goal lifted Jurgen Klopp’s side, who had the majority of the possession in the first half and created waves of attacks, one of which forced a save from Hitz.
Daniel Sturridge was involved as he nudged the ball across the box to Philippe Coutinho, who toe-poked a shot, but it was blocked by the keeper.
Augsburg’s only real chance in the first half came before the half-hour mark when Halil Altintop teed the ball up for Kostas Stafylidis, who unleashed a shot from the edge of the area, but Mignolet got a hand to it and pushed clear.
Lucas Leiva, who surprisingly played at centre-back, made one fluff in the first half as his weak back-pass to Mignolet was latched onto by Caiuby, who got round the keeper, but Mamadou Sakho dropped back to cover.
Sturridge came inches close to scoring his first of the night before the half-time whistle when Coutinho got a second chance at a cut-back from the byline, but the striker’s close-range shot was pushed onto the post by the keeper.
After the break, Sturridge showed intent to get on the scoresheet and he came close once again after latching onto Coutinho’s pass.
The England international switched the ball onto his right foot and tried to drill it low, but his shot just missed the target by a whisker.
Liverpool had a nervy moment when Paul Verhaegh‘s free kick found Caiuby, but the forward was unable to control it and the ball bounced awkwardly with Mignolet nowhere near it.
The home side were relieved to see that the offside flag had gone up, but it was not the only worrying moment for the Reds as Tobias Werner came close to causing an upset.
The midfielder charged down towards the box with plenty of space around him, but Mignolet came off his line and made a crucial stop on the edge of his area.
The Reds had numerous chances to find another goal, and Jordan Henderson was left with his head in his hands when he squandered an opportunity from close range by sending it straight to the keeper.
The visiting side spread nervous energy around Anfield in the closing stages of the first half as they threw everything into the box, and came close on a few occasions of getting a goal, but they could not convert.