Brighton 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard made his comeback after six months on the sidelines as they came through a potentially hazardous Carling Cup third round tie at Brighton unscathed.
The visit of Liverpool to Brighton's new stadium was portrayed as a possible upset with Gus Poyet's side lying third in the Championship after an impressive start to the season.
But Liverpool were deserved winners as manager Kenny Dalglish confirmed his intention to make a serious attempt to win this much-maligned competition by fielding a strong line-up.
Craig Bellamy was the inspiration behind Liverpool's victory as he made the most of his first start since returning to Anfield on a free transfer from Manchester City on transfer deadline day.
The 32-year-old opened the scoring with a composed finish early on and played a part Liverpool's second goal as Dirk Kuyt confirmed their place in the next round draw 10 minutes from time.
Bellamy also thundered a first-half free-kick against the bar and his pace and swift passing style looked a perfect fit alongside Luis Suarez, who twice came close to increasing Liverpool's advantage before half-time.
Ashley Barnes' late penalty gave Liverpool anxious moments at the conclusion, but this was a night when they had the double delight of a victory and the long-awaited return of Gerrard following groin surgery.
Craig Noone, released by Liverpool at the age of 11 and who recently revealed he helped put the roof on Gerrard's games room at his Merseyside home, almost scored a dream goal seconds after half-time only to strike the bar from 25 yards.
But Liverpool were in command and even the late lifeline offered to Brighton by Barnes' penalty was not enough to stop them closing out the win.
Bellamy made the most of his chance as he combined with Suarez and Kuyt with regularity to torment Brighton in a first-half of almost total Liverpool domination.
The Wales striker had already shot narrowly wide before he put Liverpool ahead after seven minutes with an angled shot from a typically incisive pass from Suarez.
Suarez's movement was all too much for Brighton's defence and twice in quick succession he was inches away from extending Liverpool's lead and giving them the advantage their superiority deserved.
The Uruguayan exchanged passes with Kuyt and held his head in his hands in anguish as his shot rolled agonisingly wide - and he was similarly frustrated with a glancing header from Bellamy's free-kick.
Bellamy almost added a spectacular second five minutes before the interval. As his colleagues waiting for the striker to deliver a free-kick into the box he lashed a rising shot against the bar from in excess of 30 yards with Brighton keeper Casper Ankergren little more than an observer.
In a rare moment of danger, Liverpool defender Martin Kelly was forced into a desperate clearance after Noone had tested keeper Pepe Reina.
And it was Noone again who almost punished his boyhood heroes with a powerful drive that struck the crossbar with Reina beaten as Brighton began the second half in positive mood.
Liverpool were being placed under much more pressure than they had in the first half, and Brighton attempted to increase their options by introducing former Spain international Vicente Rodriguez on the hour for the limping Will Buckley.
And he was joined in the action by Gerrard with 16 minutes left. He came on to a rousing reception from the Liverpool fans delighted to see their talisman back and taking the captain's armband.
Liverpool were looking to punish Brighton on the break as they pushed for an equaliser. And so it proved as Kuyt beat Ankergren to round off a sweeping move involving Bellamy and Maxi.
Brighton were given brief hope when Barnes scored after Jamie Carragher fouled Vicente - but the home fans had no complaints as they filed away at the final whistle.
- 16 Ankergren
- 03 Greer
- 14 Calderon
- 20 Vincelot Booked
- 28 Cook
- 08 Navarro Booked (Barnes - 78' )
- 10 Sparrow Booked (LuaLua - 78' )
- 11 Noone
- 26 Bridcutt
- 30 Buckley (Vicente - 60' )
- 12 Mackail-Smith
- 01 Brezovan
- 05 Dunk
- 27 Taricco
- 15 Vicente
- 25 LuaLua
- 32 Kasim
- 09 Barnes
- 25 Reina
- 16 Coates
- 23 Carragher
- 34 Kelly (Flanagan - 86' )
- 49 Robinson
- 11 Maxi
- 20 Spearing Booked
- 21 Lucas Booked
- 07 Suarez (Gerrard - 75' )
- 18 Kuyt
- 39 Bellamy
- 32 Doni
- 22 Wilson
- 38 Flanagan
- 08 Gerrard
- 19 Downing
- 33 Shelvey
- 09 Carroll
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +3:06
Craig Bellamy fouled by Steve Cook, the ref awards a free kick. Steven Gerrard takes the free kick.90:00 +1:57
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ashley Barnes on Jamie Carragher. Jose Reina takes the free kick.90:00 +1:32
Corner from the left by-line taken by Craig Noone, clearance made by Sebastian Coates.90:00 +0:59
Free kick crossed by Rodriguez Vicente, clearance made by Steven Gerrard.90:00 +0:59 Booking
Booking Booking for Leiva Lucas for unsporting behaviour.90:00 +0:56
Unfair challenge on Kazenga LuaLua by Leiva Lucas results in a free kick.89:21
Rodriguez Vicente provided the assist for the goal.89:21 Goal scored
Goal! - Ashley Barnes - Brighton 1 - 2 Liverpool Penalty taken right-footed by Ashley Barnes and scored. Brighton 1-2 Liverpool.88:27
Penalty awarded for an unfair challenge on Rodriguez Vicente by Jamie Carragher.86:56
Jamie Carragher fouled by Ashley Barnes, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Jose Reina.85:37 Substitution
Substitution Martin Kelly goes off and Jon Flanagan comes on.84:23
Kazenga LuaLua fouled by Dirk Kuyt, the ref awards a free kick. Rodriguez Vicente delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, Steven Gerrard makes a clearance.82:34
Kazenga LuaLua sends in a cross.80:55
Assist on the goal came from Rodriguez Maxi.80:55 Goal scored
Goal! - Dirk Kuyt - Brighton 0 - 2 Liverpool Dirk Kuyt grabs a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Brighton 0-2 Liverpool.80:16
Unfair challenge on Kazenga LuaLua by Martin Kelly results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Kazenga LuaLua.78:24
Liam Bridcutt fouled by Steven Gerrard, the ref awards a free kick. Casper Ankergren takes the direct free kick.77:07 Substitution
Substitution Alan Navarro leaves the field to be replaced by Ashley Barnes.77:07 Substitution
Substitution Matthew Sparrow goes off and Kazenga LuaLua comes on.
Corner taken left-footed by Craig Noone from the left by-line, Gordon Greer produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.74:01
Direct free kick taken by Casper Ankergren.74:01 Substitution
Substitution Luis Suarez goes off and Steven Gerrard comes on.74:01
Corner from the right by-line taken by Craig Bellamy, Unfair challenge on Gordon Greer by Sebastian Coates results in a free kick.73:09
Foul by Steve Cook on Luis Suarez, free kick awarded. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Luis Suarez.72:50
Rodriguez Vicente challenges Jack Robinson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jack Robinson takes the direct free kick.70:05
Outswinging corner taken by Craig Noone from the left by-line.67:54
Rodriguez Vicente has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.66:37
Dirk Kuyt restarts play with the free kick.66:37 Booking
Booking Romain Vincelot is cautioned.66:29
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Dirk Kuyt by Romain Vincelot.64:35
The ball is sent over by Martin Kelly.64:19
Martin Kelly delivers the ball, Gordon Greer manages to make a clearance.62:55
Free kick awarded for a foul by Inigo Calderon on Luis Suarez. Direct free kick taken by Jack Robinson.62:18
Craig Bellamy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Liam Bridcutt. Direct free kick taken by Liam Bridcutt.61:36
Craig Noone takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.59:31 Substitution
Substitution (Brighton) makes a substitution, with Rodriguez Vicente coming on for Will Buckley.58:13
Steve Cook takes the free kick.58:13 Booking
Booking The referee shows Jay Spearing a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.58:08
Unfair challenge on Will Buckley by Jay Spearing results in a free kick.56:33
Inswinging corner taken by Will Buckley from the left by-line, save by Jose Reina.55:40
The ball is crossed by Craig Noone, clearance made by Sebastian Coates.54:49
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steve Cook by Luis Suarez. Steve Cook takes the free kick.54:01
Matthew Sparrow takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.50:19
Craig Noone is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by Jose Reina.48:43
Craig Bellamy produces a cross.47:31
Dirk Kuyt takes a shot. Blocked by Steve Cook.46:46
Will Buckley takes a short corner.46:29
Craig Noone takes a shot.45:01
The second half has started.45:00 +2:42 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.45:00 +0:58
Craig Mackail-Smith fouled by Dirk Kuyt, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Craig Noone. Romain Vincelot produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.45:00 +0:33
Craig Noone takes a shot. Save made by Jose Reina.44:16
Short corner worked by Craig Noone.43:33
Short corner taken by Craig Bellamy from the right by-line.43:24
Jay Spearing takes a shot. Save by Casper Ankergren.42:56
The ball is crossed by Craig Noone, Sebastian Coates manages to make a clearance.40:38
Leiva Lucas takes the free kick.40:38 Booking
Booking Caution for Matthew Sparrow.40:32
Matthew Sparrow gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jay Spearing.39:27
Steve Cook gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Craig Bellamy. Craig Bellamy produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick,38:59
Unfair challenge on Liam Bridcutt by Craig Bellamy results in a free kick. Steve Cook takes the direct free kick.38:16
Free kick taken by Craig Bellamy.38:16 Booking
Booking Alan Navarro booked.38:09
Foul by Alan Navarro on Luis Suarez, free kick awarded.37:35
The ball is sent over by Will Buckley, save by Jose Reina.36:16
Luis Suarez crosses the ball, clearance made by Gordon Greer.34:06
Dirk Kuyt sends in a cross, Casper Ankergren makes a save.33:33
Luis Suarez fouled by Inigo Calderon, the ref awards a free kick. Luis Suarez takes the direct free kick.30:33
Free kick awarded for a foul by Romain Vincelot on Craig Bellamy. Craig Bellamy produces a cross, Headed effort from deep inside the area by Luis Suarez misses to the left of the goal.28:35
Inswinging corner taken by Craig Noone from the right by-line, save by Jose Reina.27:34
Will Buckley fouled by Martin Kelly, the ref awards a free kick. Romain Vincelot takes the free kick.25:37
Luis Suarez produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.24:03
Free kick awarded for a foul by Leiva Lucas on Craig Mackail-Smith. Liam Bridcutt restarts play with the free kick.22:13
Corner taken by Craig Noone from the right by-line played to the near post.19:06
Craig Bellamy fouled by Alan Navarro, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Jamie Carragher.17:53
Dirk Kuyt takes a shot. Clearance by Craig Mackail-Smith.16:49
Craig Bellamy takes a short corner.13:29
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Romain Vincelot by Craig Bellamy. Liam Bridcutt restarts play with the free kick.12:09
Will Buckley crosses the ball.11:27
Dirk Kuyt takes a shot. Gordon Greer gets a block in.10:24
Shot on goal by Jamie Carragher from long range goes harmlessly over the target.9:38
Craig Bellamy takes the outswinging corner, Liam Bridcutt manages to make a clearance.6:53
Assist by Luis Suarez.6:53 Goal scored
Goal! - Craig Bellamy - Brighton 0 - 1 Liverpool Craig Bellamy fires in a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Brighton 0-1 Liverpool.5:15
Outswinging corner taken by Craig Bellamy, save by Casper Ankergren.3:18
Shot by Jay Spearing from outside the box goes over the target.0:51
Dirk Kuyt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Romain Vincelot. Romain Vincelot restarts play with the free kick.0:26
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rodriguez Maxi by Liam Bridcutt. Direct free kick taken by Rodriguez Maxi.0:00
The game gets underway.
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