Liverpool have been drawn against Scottish club Hearts in the play-off for the 2012/13 Europa League campaign. The first leg will be played on 23 August, while the return game has been scheduled for 30 August and will be played at Anfield.
The Reds advanced to the play-offs with a convincing 3-0 win over Belarusian club FC Gomel in the second leg of third qualifying round and a 4-0 aggregate win. New signing Fabio Borini opened the scoring with a first time shot after 21 minutes. The strike was the Italian's first competitive goal at Anfield and coach Brendan Rodgers will pray the former Chelsea and Roma player can carry this form into the new league season. Borini and his strike partner, Uruguayan Luis Suarez will have to be doubly impressive given the number of near chances the club missed last season, not to mention those hit the post. Finally, the Northern Irishman also praised his new signing for his alertness and declared himself pleased at the way he was settling into Merseyside.
"Strikers are judged on goals, and that's why I brought Fabio here because I know he can score goals. He took the goal very well because it was a very difficult finish. He is an intelligent boy you can see the relationships and combination with Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez forming already. They were a potent attacking force," he said after the match.
The English duo of Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson added the second and third goals, either side of half time, to ensure Liverpool dominated the game.
It's All Greek for Pardew
Meanwhile, Newcastle United have been drawn to face Greek side Atromitos FC in their play-off tie. The Magpies have had a disappointing pre-season, with a surprising 1-0 defeat to German club Chemnitzer FC followed by draws against Greek outfit Olympiakos and Dutch club ADO Den Haag. Alan Pardew's men did register two wins though - 1-0 away to French club Monaco and 2-1 at home against Portuguese side Braga.
In other fixtures, Hearts' Scottish colleagues Motherwell have been drawn to play Spanish club Levante, who enjoyed a stunning run in last season's Spanish league, leading the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona in the table, for large parts of the opening rounds. Former Italian champions and three-time winners of the UEFA Cup (the Europa League in an older avataar) Inter Milan will play FC Vaslui of Romania. The Italians scraped past Hajduk Split 3-2 on aggregate in the final qualifying round to secure their place in this draw.