Dalglish happy to beat Newcastle on Carroll's return

Andy Carroll in front of the Newcastle fans
Carroll scored 11 goals for Newcastle this season before joining Liverpool

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish was pleased his side overcame the "Andy Carroll factor" as they beat the striker's former club Newcastle 3-0.

The £35m signing played the final 20 minutes of Sunday's match but by that stage the home side had the game won.

"I didn't expect to get a stroll in the sunshine," admitted Dalglish. "With the Andy Carroll factor as well it maybe added some spice for them [Newcastle].

"I think we deserved to win but it was a difficult game for us."

Much of the pre-match build-up to the match at Anfield had centred on Carroll, who left Newcastle to join Liverpool on the last day of the January transfer window for a record fee for a British player.

Sunday's game was the first time he had faced the Magpies and he was targeted for abuse by many of the travelling fans throughout.

However, this did not distract the home side from the task at hand as Maxi Rodriguez's 10th-minute deflected strike, a Dirk Kuyt penalty and Luis Suarez's neat finish sealed a comfortable victory that lifted them up to fifth in the table.

"After we took the lead they put us under pressure with set-plays and crosses but I thought we coped with it pretty well," said Dalglish.

Rodriguez's goal follows the hat-trick he scored against Birmingham last Saturday, while Kuyt now has eight in as many games for club and country.

The Scot conceded that the form of his attacking players made it difficult to start with Carroll, even though the striker is now fit again following a knee injury.

"He's only had a couple of days' training so it was best for us to start with other people," added Dalglish.

"He is here for five years so he will get plenty of opportunity to play games and we will help him get back to fitness and the 20 minutes at the end will have helped him."

With regard to the Newcastle fans taunting their former local hero, Dalglish said: "I don't think it [the abuse] will be put to bed. When he goes to St James' next season he will get it again.

"He is a young boy but he has broad shoulders."

Carroll's fellow January arrival Suarez was again impressive, scoring one and drawing a foul from Mike Williamson for Kuyt's penalty. Dalglish expressed his delight at the form of the 24-year-old.

"Luis is always getting in there and is always a threat and it fell kindly for him in the box and he stroked away," Dalglish said of the forward's third goal for the club. "It is just reward for the work he put in on the pitch."

The win takes Liverpool above Tottenham into the automatic qualification spot for the Europa League.

Mathematically they can still catch the top four but when it was pointed out to Dalglish that the Champions League was not beyond reach, he responded: "Neither is the bar but I'm not going to get there right away. We will keep going and see."

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew felt a miss from midfielder Joey Barton, when he fired past the post seconds after the interval, ended up having a significant influence on the rest of the match.

"I thought the second goal was crucial in the game," said Pardew. "We took the game to them after the first goal but couldn't quite find a moment in the box before half-time.

"We had a good chance with Joey just after half-time and I would expect him to score that.

"If we had scored that would Liverpool have been able to break out of the slumber we had got them in?"

Pardew also felt his side were harshly treated with the penalty award.

"Unfortunately for us Mike Williamson made a mistake which cost us the second goal, albeit outside the box by the looks of it," he reflected.