Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reds Cheered by Kuyt Goal; Liverpool Claim Victory in Hard-Fought Europa Tie

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reds Cheered by Kuyt Goal; Liverpool Claim Victory in Hard-Fought Europa Tie

Article excerpt

Liverpool 1 Sparta Prague 0 (Liverpool win 1-0 on aggregate) DIRK Kuyt headed a late winner to snatch victory in Kenny Dalglish's first European tie as Liverpool manager last night.

Kuyt finally broke the resistance of a determined Sparta Prague side with the only goal of a testing Europa League affair five minutes from the end of the second leg at Anfield.

Both sides had squandered numerous chances but Liverpool's superior quality was eventually rewarded by the hardworking Kuyt.

David Ngog, Joe Cole and Raul Meireles had also gone close in front of a sell-out 42,949 crowd which further underlined the gathering momentum of Dalglish's new regime.

Sparta, backed by 3,000 of their own raucous fans, contributed fully to an eventful, if low-quality, clash.

Former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll watched the Reds win from the stands while Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, absent for the two previous games with a groin injury, was not risked and his dynamism and precision was missed throughout.

Christian Poulsen, whose partner had a baby earlier in the week, made little impact in a central role while Cole, starting for the first time under Dalglish was quiet on the left.

The former Chelsea midfielder looked determined to kick-start his faltering Reds career, however, and broke clear early on to send over a looping cross which clipped the bar. The opening stages were lively and suggested the game, which ultimately lacked quality, would be far more eventful than the drab first leg.

Liverpool appealed for a penalty in the second minute when a Meireles free-kick bounced and caught Manuel Pamic on the hand but nothing was given.

At the other end Libor Sionko headed over from a Kamil Vacek cross and a dipping shot from Vaclav Kadlec narrowly missed the target.

Both goalkeepers were tested by headers, Jose Reina first claiming a firm effort from Sinoko.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos then went close to handing Liverpool the lead when he rose to meet a Meireles corner but Jaromir Blazek saved well to his right.

Reina had a scare when he failed to claim a corner but Sionko was unable to take advantage and Meireles missed a good chance when he scooped a cross from the rampaging Martin Kelly over. …

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