Reds roll to win over Valencia

Andy Carroll netted his third goal of the summer by capitalising on

a mistake by David Albelda in the sixth minute, the striker picking

up the ball, hitting it against the post off goalkeeper Diego Alves

and finishing at the second attempt. The hosts then made it 2-0 in

the final minute of normal time thanks to a goal which was

announced as Dirk Kuyt’s, even though replays suggested Sotirios

Kyrgiakos had got the last touch. The game proved to be a

comfortable workout for the Reds ahead of their Barclays Premier

League opener against Sunderland next Saturday and manager Kenny

Dalglish – who had seen his side ship 15 goals in their previous

five friendly matches – will take encouragement from the fact that

they did not concede. Dalglish made only two changes to the

starting line-up from Monday’s 3-3 draw with Valerenga in Oslo,

with former Valencia man Fabio Aurelio – featuring for the first

time in pre-season – and Alberto Aquilani coming into the team.

Jack Robinson and Kuyt dropped to the bench, where they were joined

by Lucas Leiva, who had returned to training with the Reds earlier

in the week following his participation for Brazil in the Copa

America. Juan Mata, a reported target for several Premier League

clubs over the summer, was included in the visitors’ first XI.

Liverpool made a positive start and had the lead when an error by

Valencia captain Albelda allowed Carroll to pounce. Making a hash

of a back-pass, Albelda played the ball straight into the path of

the England international, who saw his initial shot through Alves’

legs come back off the post but was alert enough to tuck away the

rebound. Moments later Dalglish was forced to make a substitution,

Glen Johnson picking up an apparent calf problem and coming off for

Martin Kelly. Valencia then enjoyed a spell of pressure before

Jordan Henderson drilled an effort wide for the hosts. Another

defensive lapse by the Spanish side let Carroll in again, but the

22-year-old could only shoot at Alves. Carroll then received a

yellow card after lunging in late on Adil Rami and getting into a

skirmish with the Frenchman, before being on the end of a hefty

challenge himself, Albelda flying in and also getting booked. Lucas

and Robinson were introduced at the break for Jay Spearing and

Aurelio and soon after the restart Dalglish made four more changes,

David Ngog, Maxi Rodriguez, Kuyt and Joe Cole coming on for

Carroll, Stewart Downing, Henderson and Aquilani. The substitutes

were quickly into the action as Ngog shot wide from Rodriguez’s

tee-up. Daniel Agger then lashed an effort over the bar, and Kelly

struck a low drive towards goal which Alves dived to smother.

Kyrgiakos and John Flanagan entered the fray to replace Agger and

Adam, and Tino Costa sent a free-kick over the bar for the away

side. Valencia substitutes Sofiane Feghouli and Roberto Soldado

looked like they might threaten late on, but Liverpool wrapped up

the win in the 90th minute, Kyrgiakos and Kuyt seemingly bundling

the ball in between them from close range. Dalglish admitted after

the match that the shutout at the back was just as important as the

goals scored. “I think the boys deserve great credit for the work

they have done out there,” Dalglish said. “I think they have got

their reward for the hard work they have done in training by not

losing any goals, and that is as pleasing for us as it is to score

two at the other end. “We are delighted with everyone’s attitude

and commitment, and for us to go and win against a very good side

will not do us any harm.” In the remaining days before the

Sunderland game, Dalglish will be welcoming striker Luis Suarez –

who helped Uruguay win the Copa America – back to training and

crossing his fingers that his players get through the midweek

international fixtures unscathed. “We have still got Luis to come

back in so we will see how he is – he should be back in Monday or

Tuesday I think,” Dalglish said. “Lucas has been back a week and it

has been great to see him back and play 45 minutes. “We are where

we would like to be with most of them. We could have done without

midweek internationals, but we just have to live with that and hope

that no-one comes back injured.” Dalglish revealed that Johnson had

in fact injured his thigh and would be assessed on Sunday. Carroll,

meanwhile, looks to be shaping up well. “We were absolutely

delighted with Andy’s performance,” Dalglish said. “You can see he

has gotten over his injury problems – he was flying about out

there, which is great for us.”