After The Match 


Liverpool-Steaua Bucuresti 4-1 (1-1)     16.9.10                  EL
Goals: Cole (1) , Ngog (55 pen, 90), Lucas (81)        Tanase (13)
Team: Reina, Kelly, Konchesky, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Babel, Maxi, Meireles, Spearing, Ngog, Cole
Subs: Lucas (Babel 78), Pacheco (Rodrguez 85),
Eccleston (Cole 88)
Not used: Jones, Johnson, Carragher, Shelvey
Yellow: Rodriguez (62)      
Abrudan (44), Kapetanos (55), Eder Bonfim (90)
Red: None
Referee: César Muñiz Fernández (ESP)
Attendance: 25,605
Shots on target: 8-2
Shots off target: 7-1
Blocked shots: 6-4
Fouls conceded: 16-14
Corners: 9-1
Offsides: 2-1
Possession: 54.8-45.2
Yellow: 1-3

HEADLINES "I'll just
the victory tonight."

Roy Hodgson
1709: Spearing boosted by backing
1709: Lucas reveals special tweet
1709: Cole admits LFC frustration
1609: Hodgson happy to rest stars
1609: Ngog brace inspires Liverpool

Spearing boosted by backing

Sky Sports

Liverpool's Jay Spearing is determined to continue to make his first-team opportunities count after starting against Steaua Bucharest.

The 21-year-old was in the Reds' starting XI at Anfield for the first time in Thursday night's Europa League match and starred as a much-changed side earned a 4-1 victory.

Spearing was loaned to Leicester under former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez last season, but he was named in Roy Hodgson's Premier League squad for the current campaign.

The Wirral-born midfielder has been boosted by the faith of his new manager and the start against Bucharest has only helped to increase his motivation.

"That was a massive moment for me to start my first game for Liverpool at Anfield and I will take a lot from the game," Spearing told his club's official website.

"I got a lot of confidence when the manager told me I would be playing and I went out there and really enjoyed it.

"The manager has given me a lot of confidence and I know I have to keep working hard every time I get the chance in the first team."

Spearing is also encouraged by the fact that Hodgson has revealed that he will continue to use all the players in his squad in the Europa League.

"It's great news the manager has the faith in us and we have to work as hard as we can and it could also lead to us getting a chance in the Premier League," he said.

Lucas reveals special tweet

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Lucas Leiva today delivered a special Twitter message when he dedicated his fantastic strike during the 4-1 win over Steaua Bucharest to his soon to be born son Pedro.

The Brazilian came off the bench to net a wonder strike at the Kop end and commented on Twitter: "I would like to dedicate it to my wife and my son Pedro Lucas that's going to born in four months!"

Speaking exclusively to Liverpool's No.21 also spoke about the joy the goal gave him.

"It was my best goal for Liverpool in front of the Kop and a real nice moment for me," he said.

"It's always special to score in front of the Kop and I enjoyed it but the most important thing was the team won and we have made a good start in the group stage of the Europa League.

"We started very well with the early goal. Maybe in the first half they had more possession than us but in the second half we got the penalty and then controlled the game.

"We are really happy because we showed our squad is good and everybody is pleased."

The Reds now head into Sunday's Old Trafford showdown with renewed confidence and are boosted by the return of Joe Cole from a three-game domestic ban.

Lucas insists our No.10 could be the key to success against United.

"We know it will be a more difficult game than Thursday when we go to Old Trafford but we will go with confidence and try to win the game," he added.

"After drawing our last game against Birmingham we want to win this game. It won't be easy because it's a derby but hopefully we can do well.

"Having Joe back from suspension is a big advantage for us. He adds a lot of quality to the team and hopefully he can make the difference."

Cole admits LFC frustration

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Joe Cole admits he was delighted to get his first Liverpool goal after a frustrating start to his Anfield career.

The England international had to endure a three-game suspension following a red card on his league bow against Arsenal.

He is now available for Sunday's battle at Old Trafford - and heads down the M62 full of confidence after his 27-second goal versus Steaua Bucharest.

He said: "It's been a long time and the suspension just seemed to last ages so I just want to get back into it now. I'm enjoying it here and I'm happy to be here.

"There was a lot of frustration there. I've been nearly a month not playing so it's been a bit stop-start but I'm happy to get my first goal for the team and a great start in the Europa League.

"Teams come here and try to sit back, they put a lot of work into stopping us playing in the first half but we managed to break them down and get the goals.

"The win is massive. You've got to win your home games, that's very important. If you win your three home games and get one draw on your travels you're through. It was a tough game and a good result."

Hodgson happy to rest stars

By Danny Wright - Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson says his decision to rest his star names for his side's 4-1 Europa League victory over Steaua Bucharest was justified.

Hodgson left out the likes of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard for the encounter at Anfield, with only Jose Reina, Paul Konchesky and Maxi Rodriguez retained from the goalless draw at Birmingham.

And the former Fulham boss saw his weakened side vindicate his stance ahead of Sunday's clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford as a brace from David Ngog and strikes from Joe Cole and Lucas Leiva secured victory.

"I think it is important you make decisions and make them for the right reasons," said Hodgson of his decision to rest key players ahead of the encounter against the Merseysiders' bitter rivals.

"I had no doubt that, given the fact we have so many players who play international football, this was the moment to give them a rest and allow them to prepare properly for Sunday's game.

"The ones who came in did a good job and got a good result and in my opinion the decision would have been just as valid even if we had not got a good result.

"They made us work hard to contain them but even in that period Joe showed some good touches.

"I'll start thinking about the weekend come tomorrow. I'll just enjoy the victory tonight."

Hodgson singled out Ngog and Cole for praise in the aftermath of the win, however he admitted Lucas' stunning drive - which came in the 81st minute and put the Reds two goals ahead - helped ease his nerves.

The visitors had levelled on 13 minutes through Cristian Tanese to cancel out Cole's opener after 28 seconds and the Romanians threatened to cause an upset.

But an Ngog penalty put the hosts back in-front and Hodgson was grateful for the goalscoring duo for their contribution to a result that puts top of Group K.

He went on: "I thought Ngog's confidence grew after the penalty but I don't think he looked that confident in the first half.

"But certainly his confidence grew the longer the game went and we had so much possession in the second half that for forwards it is good when you have that much dominance in the midfield.

"It was nice for Joe Cole to get his first goal for the club, I thought he was lively.

"We substituted Lucas because we wanted to make certain we shored up the midfield and to give Ryan Babel a rest - the decision was made for defensive rather than offensive reasons, it is just a coincidence Lucas scored a great goal."

Early goal-scorer Cole feels winning home games is crucial if Liverpool want to progress in the competition.

"It's massive, you've got to win your home games. It was a tough game tonight and a good result." said Cole. "I'm happy to get the first goal for the team.

"Teams come here, they put a lot of work in stopping us playing in the first half."

Ngog brace inspires Liverpool

By Danny Wright - Sky Sports

David Ngog's brace ensured Liverpool made a solid start to their UEFA Europa League Group K campaign by easing past Steaua Bucharesti in a 4-1 victory at Anfield.

The Reds enjoyed a dream opening by going in front after just 28 seconds thanks to Joe Cole, who ran clear into the box to steer a finish past Ciprian Tatarusanu as Liverpool seized the early initiative.

But Steaua drew level against the run of play on 13 minutes when Cristian Tanese sent a deft chip over the head of Pepe Reina from Bogdan Stancu's delightful pass to leave the Merseysiders silenced.

Roy Hodgson's team plugged away at the Romanians and restored their lead when Ngog stroked home a 56th minute penalty after Sotirios Kyrgiakos had been fouled in the box.

Steaua fell further behind when substitute Luca Leiva cracked home a superb drive from 25-yards to wrap up victory in the 81st minute and Ngog struck again in stoppage time after powering through the defence to drill into the bottom corner.

Hodgson risked criticism with his team selection, which had just three survivors from the weekend's goalless draw at Birmingham with neither Fernando Torres nor Steven Gerrard in the squad.

The Reds boss' decision, with a huge game at Manchester United on Sunday, was ultimately justified but for a 30-minute period either side of half-time when the match hung in the balance.

Prior to the game Hodgson had stressed Steaua, the 1986 European Cup winners, would provide a tough test but it took precisely 28 seconds for his words to be disproved.

Octavian Abduran, under pressure from Cole, left his back-pass woefully short and the midfielder nipped in to sidefoot a shot past goalkeeper Tatarusanu and in off the far post.

The Romanians were reeling and Kyrgiakos had a downward header from Maxi Rodriguez's corner blocked by Eric Bicfalvi and Jay Spearing fired a long-range shot over.

But Liverpool could not press home their advantage and a defensive lapse in the 13th minute allowed Steaua to equalise.

Kyrgiakos and Kelly allowed Tanase to nip in between them to collect Bogdan Stancu's through-ball and he neatly chipped over Reina.

The goal gave the visitors the confidence they needed to start knocking the ball around as Liverpool lost their way.

Cole, released down the middle by Spearing, but with no-one in support, had to shoot from distance and that - and subsequent efforts from range from Ryan Babel and Rodriguez - failed to trouble the goalkeeper sufficiently.

It was a sign of the way things were going that when Spearing implored his team-mates to "pick it up" the call was heard all around a half-full Anfield, who responded with an encouraging round of applause.

Abduran's foul on Rodriguez earned him a booking and Liverpool a 25-yard free-kick just before the interval but Paul Konchesky shot well wide.

Cole was Liverpool's most inventive player, although he did not have much competition in that department, and his good work in holding the ball up early in the second half allowed Rodriguez to fire in a shot straight at Tatarusanu.

They were gifted the chance to go ahead in the 55th minute when Pantelis Kapetanos pulled back Kyrgiakos as he challenged for Rodriguez's corner.

When Ngog stepped up to take the spot-kick - the last one at Anfield was missed by Cole against Trabzonspor - there was an audible groan.

However, the young French striker shrugged off the concerns of the Kop to expertly dispatch the ball into the left-hand corner before wheeling away with a celebration which may have included a gesture towards his doubters.

It was the 21-year-old's fifth goal of the season and fourth in five European games so far.

Raul Meireles almost marked his first start since arriving from Porto last month with a goal as his 30-yard volley was kept out by Tatarusanu's low dive to his right.

Hodgson made his first change of the night when he sent Leiva on for Babel, moving Cole out to the left and pushing Meireles further forward.

The substitute has an instant impact as he picked up a weak clearance 25 yards out to drive a shot past Tatarusanu with nine minutes to go.

Ngog fired home his second in injury time to give the scoreline a more convincing appearance.

It was a night when all the manager's decisions proved to be right. However, making all the right calls at Old Trafford on Sunday will be a much bigger challenge.

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Thor Zakariassen ©