After The Match 


Liverpool-Rabotnicki 2-0 (2-0)     5.8.10               EL 3.r-2. leg
Goals: N'Gog (21) , Gerrard (39 pen)
Team: Cavalieri, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Kelly, Jovanovic, Gerrard, Lucas, Cole, Pacheco, Ngog
Subs: Aquilani (Gerrard 62), Rodriguez (Jovanovic 67),
Spearing  (Lucas 73)
Not used: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Wilson,  Eccleston
Yellow: Carlos (20)
Red: None
Referee: Peter Sippel (GER)
Attendance: 31,202
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Blocked shots:
Fouls conceded:
Yellow: 0-1

HEADLINES "Once again his work rate was very good..."
Roy Hodgson
on N'Gog
0508: Roy delight at Cole bow
0508: Cole pleased with Liverpool debut
0508: Cole stars as Liverpool ease through


Roy delight at Cole bow

By James Carroll at Anfield - LFC Official Website

Roy Hodgson admitted he was thrilled with Joe Cole's competitive Liverpool debut after the midfielder played a starring role in
the 2-0 Europa League victory over FK Rabotnicki on Thursday evening.

Hodgson admitted he was buoyed by the industrious performance of the summer signing, who can consider himself highly unfortunate not to have marked his home bow with a goal.

"His energy and enthusiasm tonight meant he had a really good home debut," the boss told reporters at a post-match press conference.

"Joe is desperate to play. He came here because he thought he might get the opportunity to start more games than he did at Chelsea.

"He is a very enthusiastic, effervescent footballer who the more he plays, the happier he is. He is the type of player who wants to play every minute of every game.

"Whether that is going to be possible is another matter, but it's a good quality to have."

A crowd of 31,202 turned up at Anfield to watch the Reds progress into the next round of the Europa League 4-0 on aggregate thanks to first-half goals from David Ngog and Steven Gerrard.

Hodgson admits he was taken aback by the turn out, but is confident those inside the stadium will have been enamoured by the performance of Cole.

"I must say I am surprised by the size of the crowd," he said. "I think it is quite incredible that a tie, in which we won 2-0 away from home against an unfancied opponent, can still attract over 30,000 people.

"That is fantastic and it's great for me that Joe, on his debut in front of such a big crowd, has shown them they are going to get a lot of joy from him this season."

As he was in the pre-season friendly against Borussia Moenchengladbach, Cole was deployed in an advanced role just behind the main striker.

However, Hodgson believes the No.10 is versatile enough to operate in a number of different positions on the pitch that will benefit the team.

He added: "Joe can play a lot of positions but it is going to be a question of where we need him most and how he will fit in best with us and the rest of the players.

"When you have got a player of his quality, you work hard to get him on the field and you put him on the field in a position where he is going to best serve the team."

Liverpool's margin of victory could have been much greater - although a flurry of missed chances meant the Reds were forced to settle for just two goals on the night.

Hodgson said: "It's enough. One more (goal) than the opposition is always enough.

"I am perfectly satisfied. I thought we were good in both games and today in particular we played some very attractive football and created lots of chances - probably more than the score line would suggest.

"The important thing is we kept our discipline and way of playing throughout, even though the game was at times relatively easy for us. That was important because it is so easy in these games to lose your way and start doing things you don't really want people doing.

"The players impressed me enormously with their discipline and continuing to play in the right way and creating chances."

The boss also had words of praise for Ngog, who played a key role in both goals.

After heading home an early opener from Cole's cross, the French striker won the penalty which was converted by Gerrard just before the break.

"Like the rest of the players, he was involved in a lot of goalscoring opportunities," said Hodgson.

"The important thing is he is up there to be involved in these opportunities. He was unlucky not to add to his tally on at least one or two occasions.

"Once again his work rate was very good and he provided the focal point for our attacks that players like Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Aquilani playing behind him need."

Liverpool will now wait 10 days before playing their next fixture - the Barclays Premier League opener against Arsenal in front of the Kop on August 15 - due to the international break.

Hodgson said: "It is frustrating, not just for me but for 90 per cent of my colleagues. In the Premier League there are very few teams who don't have a lot of international players on their books going away.

"Unfortunately FIFA set this date a long time back and we have known August 11 is a FIFA date. It is a bit unfortunate they have decided to start the league three days after that.

"In my opinion, it would have been nice if that could have been pushed back and we had same sort of time the teams in Italy, Spain and Germany have to prepare because their leagues don't start until after ours."

Cole pleased with Liverpool debut


Joe Cole was pleased to get 90 minutes in for his new club as Liverpool cruised to a Europa League qualifying win over Rabotnicki.

Cole, who arrived on a free transfer having been released by Chelsea, was at the heart of his new side's best moves and set up the opening goal for David Ngog. Captain Steven Gerrard slotted home a penalty just before the interval.

"It was good, I was nervous before the game but it's always like that when you go to a new club," Cole told ITV4.

"It was good to get 90 minutes in and get the win in the end. The main difference (at Anfield as a Liverpool player) is that I wasn't getting too much stick! That's different.

"I enjoyed it, I needed the 90 minutes. I ran out of petrol a bit with 20 minutes to go but it was needed. It would have been nice to have scored but I'm sure that will come soon."

Team-mate Jamie Carragher said: "I thought Joe was brilliant, it was a great performance.

"We've probably been written off a bit over the summer and I think everyone believes we can improve on last season.

"With the addition of Joe, the news about Steve (Gerrard) and Fernando (Torres) staying and hopefully one or two coming in, there's a bit more of a feel-good factor.

"It's positive."

Cole stars as Liverpool ease through


Joe Cole impressed as Liverpool beat Rabotnicki 2-0 in the second leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie at Anfield.

Cole was at the heart of his new side's best moves and set up the opening goal for David Ngog.

Captain Steven Gerrard slotted home a penalty just before the interval and after that it was more of an exhibition game as Liverpool eased into the play-off draw.

The Macedonians put up little in the way of opposition and the visit of Arsenal in little over a week's time for the opening fixture of the domestic season will be a completely different proposition for the Reds and their new boss Roy Hodgson.

However, he can take heart from the performance of Cole on his debut.

The 28-year-old was handed the central attacking role he so craves and did plenty to justify his claims for taking that position off Gerrard, who has been so effective playing behind the striker in recent seasons.

Hodgson adopted the 4-2-3-1 formation used by his predecessor Rafa Benitez rather than the 4-4-2 he used at Fulham but the system looked more fluid than it had last season.

Ngog had the ball in the net early only to be flagged offside but he fluffed his first genuine chance in the 14th minute.

A backheel by Cole released Gerrard who put last week's two-goal hero clean through and although Martin Bogatinov dropped to his knees far too early the French striker took the ball too close to the goalkeeper who cleared.

The precision of Cole's lofted pass was not matched by the first touch of Spain Under-19 international Dani Pacheco, making his first start, but the opening goal was not long in coming.

A low 25-yard shot by Gerrard was tipped around the post by Bogatinov and Liverpool took the lead from the resulting 21st-minute corner.

The captain played the ball short to Cole who curled a cross towards the penalty spot where Ngog headed in off the underside of the crossbar.

Five minutes before half-time Fernando Lopes fouled Ngog as he turned Lucas Leiva's looping header past the defender and Gerrard slotted home from the penalty spot.

Less than 40 seconds after the restart Cole's cross-shot rebounded off the angle of crossbar and post while another new signing Milan Jovanovic's low shot was palmed around his left-hand upright by Bogatinov.

Cole then forced the goalkeeper into a low save to his left, Pacheco fired in a shot from the left wide of the far post and Ngog headed tamely at Bogatinov as the one-way traffic continued.

Gerrard, who last week committed his future to the club despite speculation to the contrary, soon departed to a standing ovation to be replaced by Alberto Aquilani while Jovanovic, who had also flashes of some much-needed creativity, made way for Maxi Rodriguez.

But the focal point continued to be Cole, whose display deserved a goal, as he was denied at the near post again.

Yet another Cole pass played Rodriguez in on the right of the penalty area and he cut the ball back on to his left foot but his shot was blocked by Egzon Belica.

Cole was destined not to get on the scoresheet as Martin Kelly's left-wing cross was too hard and high for the unmarked diminutive midfielder to get a proper header on.

However, Liverpool, who go into tomorrow's draw in Nyon for the play-off round, will be more than happy if Cole saves his strikes for more auspicious occasions.

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Thor Zakariassen