Premier League - Carroll strike boosts Liverpool

Tue, 31 Jan 21:39:00 2012

Andy Carroll scored his first Premier League goal for three months as Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

Wolves 0 Liverpool 3

The England striker half-volleyed home Charlie Adam's cross in the 53rd minute as Liverpool kept their hopes of a Champions League place alive.

Having been linked with a move away from Anfield earlier this month, Carroll marked the first anniversary of his £35 million transfer to Anfield with one of his most accomplished performances for the club.

Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt were also on target as the Reds dominated the second half against Mick McCarthy's strugglers, who have now gone nine games without a win in all competitions.

Wolves made one change from the side which lost 3-2 at home to Aston Villa in their last match, with Eggert Jonsson making his first league appearance since arriving from Hearts, replacing the suspended Karl Henry. Steven Gerrard was rested for Liverpool, but Jay Spearing recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place in midfield, while Bellamy also started.

Despite the lack of goals, it was a frenetic first-half with Liverpool bossing the early stages. Carroll touched a Bellamy cross on to Kuyt but Roger Johnson's presence put the Dutchman off and the ball ran out of play.

David Edwards had Wolves's best chance of the half when he forced a good stop from Pepe Reina after breaking into the area and getting on the end of a teasing cross from Michael Kightly.

Wolves grew into the game after a tentative start, although Liverpool were still looking menacing at the other end and only an excellent save on the line from Wayne Hennessey prevented Daniel Agger heading home a Bellamy corner.

Wolves were still posing a threat and Steven Fletcher headed a corner inches over Reina's bar.

Liverpool felt they should have won a penalty when Adam went down under a challenge from Emmanuel Frimpong but referee Anthony Taylor waved play-on. Replays suggested Liverpool's protests were not unwarranted.

There was still time for Knightly to play a one-two with Fletcher and shoot inches wide of Reina's left post before a lively first-half came to a close.

If the opening period was an evenly contested affair, the second was anything but.

Within seven minutes Liverpool were ahead as Carroll escaped the attentions of Eggert Jonsson to stroke home Adam's left-wing cross. It was only the striker's third league goal of the season and provided another confidence boost on the back of an encouraging display in the FA Cup win over Manchester United on Saturday.

The lively Bellamy doubled the lead when he was allowed to carry the ball a long way before curling a low effort from the edge of the area that squirmed underneath Hennessey. The Wolves goalkeeper should have done far better.

Still Liverpool came, as Wolves showed none of the enterprise that had contributed to a thrilling first-half.

Kuyt sealed the win after 78 minutes when he powered home another pass after a swift Liverpool counterattack for his first league goal of the season.

There was still time for Wolves substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to control with his chest and volley a sublime long-range effort that smacked against the inside of Reina's post but these are troubling times for Wolves who remain second from bottom in the Premier League.

Stewart Coggin - @SCoggin_journo / Eurosport

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