Liverpool to play Hearts in all-British Europa League play-off

 

Liverpool have been drawn to face Hearts in an all-British affair in the Europa League play-offs.

The Reds cruised into the final qualifying round of the competition with a 4-0 aggregate win over FC Gomel of Belarus, while Hearts qualified for this stage by virtue of winning the William Hill Scottish Cup.

Newcastle will face Atromitos of Greece while Motherwell have been given a tough assignment after being drawn against Spanish Primera Division side Levante.

The first leg is set to be played on either August 22 or 23 with the return a week later and the undoubted interest in Britain will be Liverpool's clash with Hearts, who will host the first leg.

It would have been a welcome draw for the Reds, who have avoided an energy-sapping foreign trip three days before their second league match of the season against Manchester City.

However, it may prove to be a baptism of fire for new manager Brendan Rodgers, who will see his side travel to West Brom, then Tynecastle for the first leg before the small matter of hosting the Premier League champions Manchester City all within the space of eight days.

Newcastle's challenge is equally daunting as they must travel to Greece in-between their Premier League curtain-raiser at home to Tottenham and a trip to Champions League winners Chelsea.

Atromitos will prove to be a tough challenge in likely testing conditions, with the Athens-based side finishing fourth in the Greek Super League.

They were 23 points adrift of champions Olympiacos, with whom Alan Pardew's men drew 1-1 in a friendly in Portugal last month.

PA

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