12 March 2011

Carroll gets duo backing

Joe Cole and Lucas Leiva were united in their praise for the performance of Andy Carroll after the striker's commanding cameo display against Braga on Thursday night.

Although Liverpool succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in the Europa League last 16 meeting at the Estadio AXA, Carroll's impact after coming on as a second-half substitute was cause for great optimism ahead of next week's second leg at Anfield.
Cole told Liverpoolfc.tv: "He did well. It was really good to get to use him and he's going to be a really big player for the club.
"The fans are going to love his all-action style and it was great to see him."
Lucas added: "We know he has been out for a few months and will come back slowly.
"We don't want to put a lot of pressure on him now because it would be unfair, but he gives us another option.

"He can win it in the air, hold the ball up and give all of the team a chance to go forward and try to create chances. He was really good and we are happy."
Alan's 18th minute penalty gave Braga victory on the night in northern Portugal and Lucas concedes Liverpool were below par.
However, he is adamant the Reds were not guilty of underestimating the opposition and is confident Kenny Dalglish's contingent will be a different proposition for the Arsenalistas on home turf.
He said: "We knew they beat Arsenal here. They have a very good team that can pass the ball really well.
"In the first half it is clear we didn't play well but in the second half we created more chances. Now we have to make sure we do better at Anfield and I think we will have a big chance to go through (if we do)."
Lucas added: "At half-time, Kenny said we had to improve our application and concentration, and try to go forward.
"In the first half we couldn't keep the ball as we would have liked. In the second half with Carroll, he could hold the ball up for us and we could create chances.
"Maybe the referee could have given the decision in the penalty incident with Joe Cole, but at the end of the day we just have to play better at Anfield."
With Liverpool failing to muster an away goal in Braga, their task of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Europa League will be made all the more difficult should the Portuguese side find the back of the net on Merseyside.
But Lucas believes the Kop will have a big role to play in helping the Reds' cause.
He said: "As always, the fans will be behind us and I think it will be a different game.
"We have to start with possession, try to score goals and make sure we don't concede because we know if we concede one we will have to score three.
"It will be a different game and hopefully we will go through."
Meanwhile, Cole believes he should have been awarded a penalty after being felled inside the box deep into the second half.
The winger acknowledges Liverpool were not firing on all cylinders, but feels they were worthy of a draw at The Quarry.
"I think it was a penalty, but you get some and you don't get some," he said. "1-1 would have been a cracking result but we have to move on now.
"This is a difficult place to come. They have beaten some top sides here, but in the second half I felt we deserved to get something out of the game.
"We started off in first gear and weren't pressing them. It was a slow start and we needed to improve - and we did that in the second half. We just need to keep working hard."
Cole was handed a starting berth in Portugal and completed the 90 minutes. He admits he was pleased to have taken another step on the road to full fitness.
He said: "I am happy. I am taking it day by day and trying to do my best every time I step onto the pitch - training or playing - and trying to keep nice and positive.
"I'm enjoying my football and training. It was nice to get out there and get a run around. It would have been good to get a better result but the important thing is we're still in the tie."

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