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Wolverhampton 0-3 Liverpool: Carroll marks club anniversary with goal

Andy Carroll marked his one-year anniversary with Liverpool by scoring in the Reds 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton Tuesday at the Molineaux Stadium. Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt were also on the scoresheet for the Merseysiders.

Carroll, the £35 million pound signing from Newcastle on Jan. 31, 2011, scored just his third league goal this season in the 52nd minute to give the Reds the lead. A cross from Charlie Adam looped into the box for Carroll, who met it on the run and half-volleyed the ball into the left side of the goal.

Carroll’s goal is his first in the league since Oct. 29 in a 2-0 road victory over West Bromwich Albion, however Liverpool’s No. 9 last netted in the third round of the FA Cup in the club’s 5-1 win over Oldham on Jan. 6.

Craig Bellamy made it twice as nice for the visitors just nine minutes later. Bellamy took possession of the ball from deep, charged forward, rounded a defender, and shot a low curling effort past Wayne Hennessey.

Hennessey, who made 8 crucial saves in the first half, got a hand on the ball, however his attempt wasn’t enough to keep Bellamy from scoring his sixth goal in the league – making him Liverpool’s top scorer this season with 9 goals in all competitions, one ahead of Luis Suarez’s eight.

Dirk Kuyt picked up his 50th career league goal for Liverpool in the 78th minute on a counter attack. Jose Enrique cleared a Wolves cross to himself before playing a beautiful ball across the field to Kuyt. Kuyt took a few touches before laying off to Adam, who picked up his second assist of the night by playing Kuyt through on goal. The Dutchman one-timed his shot past Hennessey’s near side to ensure the Reds walked out of the Molineaux with three points.

Wolverhampton boss Mick McCarthy, who was greeted with a round of boos at the final whistle, said his side’s second half was “unacceptable,” and the reason Wolves now site in the relegation zone with just 18 points.

“I was pleased with the first half performance, but what good is that when you lose and play like that in the second half?” McCarthy told Sky Sports. “I can understand the reaction of the fans. It was an unacceptable performance in the second half. If I’d paid to watch that I would have responded in the same way.”

Kenny Dalglish, meanwhile, was happy about his team’s performance.

“It was an eventful night’s work,” he told Sky Sports. “Great credit to the players, they didn’t get carried away with what they had done by getting to Wembley and beating Manchester United.

“This was a thoroughly professional, high quality performance and we thoroughly deserved the victory.

“The attitude and the work-rate was key to the win tonight.

“I thought we had the better chances of the first half, but then once we got the first goal it changes things, but up until then I think we had been playing well enough.”

Dalglish also had special praise for Bellamy, telling his post-match press conference, “Craig is fantastic. I wish his numbers were the other way around and instead of 32 he was 23!

“He doesn’t do anything that surprises you because he really prepares himself well for matches, he knows what the best thing for himself to do within the framework of the team is and when he gets it, you expect something to happen.”

Next up for Liverpool is a return to Anfield to take on third-place Tottenham on Feb. 6. The match will serve as the first time Suarez will be available for the Reds having completed his 8-match ban against Wolves.

Captain Steven Gerrard played no part in the Wolves win, while Jay Spearing returned from a hamstring injury to put in a solid performance as DM. Jordan Henderson was the side’s most accurate passer with 88 percent completed, as well as covering the most ground.

Starting XI: Reina (C); Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Spearing, Henderson, Adam, Kuyt, Bellamy; Carroll

Subs: Doni; Carragher, Coates, Kelly, Aurelio; Shelvey, Downing

Man of the Match: Andy Carroll. Carroll once again had a great game for the Reds, and his confidence will receive a boost not only from his performances against United and Wolves, but also from getting a well-deserved goal. His link-up play is improving, and he’s starting to boss defenders around like in his Newcastle days. Carroll set up a number of players with some good flicks, and he is beginning to show greater spatial awareness in the box.

Needs to do better: No one. It’s hard to fault a single player after a great 7 days for the club. Pepe Reina picked up his ninth clean sheet of the season, tying him for the lead with Manchester City’s Joe Hart, and Liverpool are joint top for fewest shots allowed with 80.

Side note: Jamie Carragher made his 471st league appearance (678 overall) for Liverpool putting him second behind only Ian Callaghan, whose 640 and 857 respectively will likely never be touched.

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