Dalglish praises team effort


Soccer:Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish praised the teamwork and togetherness of his side after they demolished Birmingham 5-0 at Anfield.

Maxi Rodriguez scored his first hat-trick for the club, Dirk Kuyt hit his seventh goal in six Barclays Premier League matches and substitute Joe Cole added a late fifth.

Coincidentally, the scoreline also matched that which Dalglish had the only other time he met Birmingham when he was Reds boss first time around.

It was Liverpool's biggest win since beating Hull 6-1 in September 2009, a result which briefly took them top of the table. Rodriguez, who replaced injured €41 million striker Andy Carroll, grabbed the headlines but it was the quality of the team's play which stood out.

"Maxi is a very intelligent footballer. He's not a direct replacement for Andy but he's got more goals than him in that one performance," he said. "Maxi has not played for a few weeks and came on and did a fantastic job for us. Joe also got his reward because he has trained well and he came on and got a goal.

"It won't do Joe or Maxi any harm and the joy the players got from Maxi scoring his hat-trick and Joe scoring his goal reflects how close a group they are and that is great for the club. They are all playing for each other and the players are going to play better if they are confident and if they are happy going to work they will get better results."

Liverpool were in control from the moment Rodriguez put them ahead in the seventh minute and apart from a 10-minute spell from Birmingham after they conceded, the hosts were rarely troubled throughout.

"Getting a goal early doors set us on our way," added Dalglish. "They put us under pressure after that without us being over-worked. We then got the second goal but the third was the most important. I think we were deserved winners, we played some fantastic football and we have had a good day and it was very enjoyable for us."

Dalglish played down the absence of Carroll, who injured a knee in last Sunday's draw at Arsenal.

"He's not too bad. We'll just have to wait and see," said the Scot, whose next match is against Carroll's former club Newcastle. "It will be a big game for him next week but a bigger game for the club."

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish bemoaned his side's defending early on, admitting it ruined their game plan from the off.

"The first goal for us was a killer blow, losing it so early because you are coming here to frustrate," he said. "It disrupted totally our plans. The first two goals were really soft, we have to do better. For the second goal there was a big hole in the centre of our defence and that is most unlike us.

"Quite simply the boys have got to get back to their best. We know today was a bad day at the office but I don't believe it will affect morale."