Liverpool draw Hearts in Europa League play-off round


Liverpool have been drawn against Hearts, while Newcastle United will face Greek side Atromitos in the Europa League play-off round.

Liverpool will travel to Tynecastle on 23 August, with Newcastle heading to Atromitos on the same day. The return legs are set for 30 August.

The winners will join Tottenham in the group stage.

Motherwell have been given a tough task against Spanish side Levante, who were sixth in La Liga last season.

Xavi Torres (centre) celebrates scoring for Lavante last season
Xavi Torres (centre) celebrates scoring for Lavante last season

They are in the play-off round after crashing out of the Champions League qualifiers with a 5-0 aggregate defeat by Panathinaikos.

Newcastle are back in Europe for the first time since 2007, when they lost to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the last 16, and face a side that finished fourth in the Greek Superleague last season.

Liverpool beat FC Gomel 4-0 on aggregate to take their place in the final round of Europa League qualifying,.

Hearts manager John McGlynn, who succeeded Paulo Sergio this summer, is hoping to avoid are repeat of last year's 5-0 home defeat by Tottenham.

"Unfortunately for Hearts, it died very quickly after a great build up to the game, great atmosphere, because of the way Tottenham went about their business that night," he said.

"Fortunately, Hearts restored pride by going down to Tottenham and getting a draw, which was fantastic from that point of view. I would hope we would have learned from that.

"Unfortunately, we've lost some players over the summer, so it is a different type of team, but every dog has its day. Hopefully, we can do enough in the first game to keep it very much alive for the second, which is what they didn't do against Tottenham."

McGlynn was, however, relishing the tie against a side he faced himself as a youth player with Bolton Wanderers, albeit in the reserves.

"It is an exciting prospect," he said, pointing out that Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard's pay alone dwarfed his own resources.

"Six months ago, you are at Raith Rovers, so what an opportunity - for everyone. Obviously, budget wise, Stevie G will be getting as much as my budget. From that point of view, you're up against it.

"But we have a lot of young players at the minute and the prospect for them, home and away against Liverpool, is fantastic."

Stuart McCall hopes his Motherwell side can build on their performances against Panathinaikos, the manager seeing some positives from their play despite the scoreline.

"I actually know nothing about Levante and I'm focusing on St Johnstone tomorrow," he said of the side who finished sixth last season in Spain under coach Juan Ignacio Martinez.

"I know they had a terrific season and, naturally, a Spanish side will be very good technically I would imagine. But it will be good for the supporters, easy to get to and possibly not as hot as Greece.

"We looked at the pot we could have been in and the club from Israel would have been the hardest one in terms of location."

Meanwhile, Celtic have been drawn to face Swedish side Helsingborgs in the Champions League play-off.

Celtic are due to play the first leg in Sweden on 21/22 August, with the return in Glasgow on 28/29 of the month. It is the first time Celtic have faced a Swedish club in European competition.

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