LIVERPOOL (4) vs STEAUA BUCHAREST (1)
JOE COLE scored the fastest goal in Liverpool’s European history to inspire a comfortable win over Steaua Bucharest.
The ex-Chelsea midfielder struck after just 27 seconds as Roy Hodgson’s patched-up side opened their Europa League account in style at Anfield.
David Ngog took his tally to five in five games with a cool brace while substitute Lucas joined in the goal rush with a stunning 22-yard strike.
But it was Cole who took the plaudits after scoring his first Reds goal since his free transfer from Chelsea in the summer. “I’m happy to get my first goal for the team,” the England man said. “Teams come here, they put a lot of work in stopping us playing in the first half.”
Of the result, Cole added: “It’s massive, you’ve got to win your home games. It was a tough game and a good result.”
Fresh from serving a three-match domestic ban following his sending off against Arsenal, Cole was keen to impress and wasted no time in showing the Kop what they’ve been missing.
With many fans still taking to their seats, he latched onto a tame back pass from Octavian Abrdan before steering the ball past keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
But the Romanians silenced the Anfield crowd 12 minutes later when Cristian Tanese nonchalantly chipped the ball over Pepe Reina from Bogdan Stancu’s delightful pass.
But Liverpool plugged away, however, and were rewarded for their attacking impetus on 56 minutes when Sotirios Kyrgiakos was fouled in the box and Ngog stroked the ball home from the spot.
Lucas then cracked home a superb drive nine minutes from time before Ngog wrapped things up with a cool injury-time finish.