Liverpool in need of a morale boosting win and performance travelled to the south coast to Brighton for this perilous Carling Cup encounter. Brighton have been in superb form this season since their promotion to the Championship, although they tasted their first defeat of the season last Saturday. But at their impressive new Amex Stadium they remain unbeaten. So this would prove a tough tie for Liverpool whose early season form has stuttered in recent weeks with back to back away defeats. So Liverpool would be hopeful of getting back to winning ways and continue on their quest to reach the new Wembley for the first time.
As expected Kenny made a few changes to the side that lost to Spurs on Sunday with Robinson, Maxi, Kuyt, Bellamy and the fit again Martin Kelly starting, also new signing Coates made his first start for Liverpool, partnering Carragher in the heart of the defence. Surprisingly no start for Carroll but Liverpool were encouraged with the news that talisman Steven Gerrard was on the bench and hope to feature for the first time in 6 months for the Reds.
Liverpool started brightly looking like a team with a point to prove and they looked threatening from the first whistle, and they were rewarded in the 7th minute when Bellamy who was making his first start for Liverpool since his return, fired an angled shot low past Angergren after being played through by Suarez.
It was a great start by Liverpool as they had the home side chasing shadows. Kuyt almost doubled the lead when he headed a Maxi cross towards goal but Greer made a goal line clearance. Liverpool continued to press for the second goal and should got it but Suarez was wasteful when shooting wide when one on one with Angergren after a lovely one two with Kuyt.
Bellamy and Suarez were causing Brighton all sorts of problems with their movement and the next chance came courtesy of a Bellamy free-kick which Suarez headed clipping the post with his attempt. Then on 40 minutes Bellamy hit a rocket of a free-kick from 35 yards which smashed against the underside of the Brighton crossbar and away to safety.
Spearing had a left foot shot brilliantly saved by Angergren as Liverpool continued to threaten. But with all the domination they almost went in at half-time level but for a tremendous intervention by Kelly with Reina beaten.
Brighton came out with far more purpose after the break and almost scored immediately when Coates misplaced a pass straight to Navarro who’s shot rattled off the crossbar with Reina beaten. Moments later Coates made amends with a superb challenge on Noone as Brighton threatened.
Another good Brighton move resulted in Sparrow shooting but Reina saving comfortably. Liverpool were given a massive lift when Kenny sent on his Captain for Suarez in the 73rd minute with the away support giving Gerrard a standing ovation with pleasure at seeing their hero for the first time in 6 months.
Brighton continued to look for the equaliser but were dealt a blow in the 81st minute when a swift Liverpool counter attack saw Bellamy release Maxi who then unselfishly played Kuyt in on the right hand edge of the Brighton box who placed a low shot in off the far post and into the Brighton net giving Liverpool that crucial second goal.
Brighton did manage to score a late consolation goal from the penalty spot which Barnes converted but it was too little too late as Liverpool held on for a very good win taking them into the next round of the Carling Cup.
This was a very good performance against a very confident side in Brighton. Dalglish had a good mix of youth and experience in his side which I like as he has many options now. Good to see Coates starting and apart from one misplaced pass I thought he did well alongside Carragher. I was also very pleased to see Bellamy start with Suarez and their movement caused Brighton all sorts of problems. Bellamy has made a big statement with his performance for a regular game now, I thought he was superb and great to see him scoring too. Kuyt shows how valuable to the team his once again with his work ethic and also how is always capable of nicking a goal. Martin Kelly did very well coming back into the side and gives us a more solid looking right side of defence. But moment of the night was the return of Gerrard after 6 long months out, a welcomed sight for every Liverpool supporter. A great night all round for Liverpool as they responded superbly to the disaster at the weekend. In the first half we played some superb football and should have scored more but then we defended well when Brighton came back into the game and always looked dangerous on the break. A welcomed performance by Liverpool as we now look to the Wolves game with our confidence back.
Man Of The Match – Bellamy – a superb game, lively, great movement, linked up well with Suarez and scored a great goal, very unlucky with his effort from long range.
written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com