Carroll leads Reds to 3-0 win over City
Andy Carroll scored his first goals for Liverpool since becoming the most expensive British player, striking twice in a 3-0 win over Manchester City on Monday that keeps alive his team's hopes of European football next season.
The England striker, who joined on a 35 million pound transfer from Newcastle in January, scored with a powerful shot on his favored left foot in the 13th minute and with a glancing header in the 35th.
''The first goal was a great strike and the second was a great ball in and a good flick-on,'' Liverpool manager Kenny Daglish said. ''That won't do him any harm, to score his first goals at Anfield.
''I think it is a gratifying performance for everyone.''
Dirk Kuyt had made it 2-0 just 93 seconds before Carroll's second goal as Liverpool's slick and vibrant display brought its ninth straight victory against Man City at Anfield.
Liverpool stayed sixth in the standings but moved within five points of No. 5 Tottenham in the sole Europa League qualifying position, albeit having played one more match.
Fourth-place City has also played one more game than Tottenham and is only three points above Spurs in the final Champions League berth.
Worse still for City, captain Carlos Tevez was replaced in the 16th minute with a hamstring injury that looks certain to rule him out of the FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United on Saturday.
''His hamstring is very difficult for Saturday. It is very difficult as it is only five days away. We'll try (to get him fit) but we probably need two weeks,'' said City manager Roberto Mancini, who also apologized for his team's display.
''I am sorry for the fans. We only started to play after 20 minutes.''
Due to a defensive crisis that has claimed Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly and Sotirios Kyrgiakos to injury or illness, Daglish gave 18-year-old John Flanagan a debut at right back.
With the semifinal in mind, Mancini made three changes from the team that thrashed Sunderland 5-0 last week.
Striker Edin Dzeko, still to score in eight league matches since joining from Wolfsburg in January, replaced Mario Balotelli and midfielders Gareth Barry and James Milner came in for Nigel de Jong and David Silva.
Liverpool started with plenty of verve, passing the ball from wing to wing as Luis Suarez probed for openings just behind Carroll.
Carroll's first goal came after a speculative long-range shot from Raul Meireles was blocked by Vincent Kompany. The ball landed for him to strike a low swerving shot that flew past 'keeper Joe Hart in a goal reminiscent of his first for England last month against Ghana.
Desperate lunges by City players had blocked goal-bound shots on three occasions before Kuyt collected his ninth league goal of the season, sliding the ball across Hart and inside the far post in the 34th minute.
Almost immediately it was 3-0.
Carroll competed with Aleksandar Kolarov in an aerial battle near the penalty spot, flicking the ball from Meireles' pinpoint cross beyond a diving Hart.
After such a dominant first-half display, Liverpool failed to reach similar heights after the break, with City midfielder Yaya Toure's powerful drive forcing Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina into making the best save of the second period.
The burgeoning partnership between Liverpool's forwards almost brought Carroll a hat trick, his header from Suarez's chipped pass just looping onto the roof of the net in the 87th minute.
''I thought we thoroughly deserved victory,'' Daglish said. ''The way we went about our work was a great credit to ourselves and the football club.''