Spearing boosted by backing
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
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 Liverpoolfc.tv 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
"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
"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."
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
The England international had to endure a three-game
suspension following a red card on his league bow against
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'
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
Kyrgiakos and Kelly allowed Tanase to nip in between them to
collect Bogdan Stancu's through-ball and he neatly chipped
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.