Dalglish looks close to home after first Liverpool point

Reuters

Sun, 16 Jan 18:28:00 2011

By Sonia Oxley LIVERPOOL, England, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Liverpool picked up their first point under Kenny Dalglish on Sunday with a 2-2 draw against Everton that gave the emotional new manager belief he could turn around the club's fortunes with the existing squad.

Making his first return to the Anfield dugout since leaving the club nearly 20 years ago, Dalglish was greeted by banners and cheers and was soon punching the air in celebration when Raul Meireles put Liverpool ahead in the 29th minute.

Any elation was wiped out seconds after the break when Sylvain Distin scored for Everton and Dalglish was left silently shaking his head six minutes later when Jermaine Beckford made it 2-1 as the visitors found an edge missing in the first half.

Instead of retreating inside their shells as they have in other setbacks this season, Liverpool continued to create chances through a revived Fernando Torres and pulled level when Dirk Kuyt struck from the penalty spot in the 68th minute.

With owner John Henry watching from the stands, Dalglish would have the perfect chance to ask for some funds to dip into the transfer market but he believed the answer could lie closer to home in the shape of young or out-of-favour players.

He pointed to the lively performance by 22-year-old midfielder Jay Spearing and said there were others who should be given a chance.

"We've got to be conscious of the fact that ... Jay played really well today and there's Jonjo Shelvey, Daniel Pacheco, Danny Wilson. We've got to be careful that we put them in and don't destroy them," Dalglish told a news conference.

"Equally we've got a couple of senior players who the supporters haven't exactly seen eye-to-eye with and we've got to try to rebuild them because they could be valuable acquisitions for us as well.

"If we can get Christian (Poulsen) and Paul Konchesky back on side then that makes the squad that much deeper."

BELIEF BACK

His optimism will also be lifted by a more positive-looking Torres, the Spain striker who cracked a shot against the far post early on and then did well to get in a cross from a tight angle past a line of blue shirts towards the end of the first half.

"There is a lot of belief coming back into the players and that is great," said Dalglish, who did not sit down for the whole of his first home match since taking over last weekend.

Everton had goalkeeper Tim Howard to thank that they trailed by just one goal at the break after the American saved well to deny Meireles, Maxi Rodriguez and Torres.

Everton manager David Moyes blamed the big occasion for getting to some of his younger players who had to step up in the absence of regulars like Louis Saha, injured in training, and Steven Pienaar, who is on the verge of leaving the club.

"I was disappointed with the first half because I thought we never got to the pitch of the game, I thought we looked as if we had some young players in the team who looked as if they were a little overawed with the start of the game," said Moyes.

"I'm disappointed we didn't take all three points after the second half but delighted we were only 1-0 down at halftime -- Liverpool were the better team."

Whatever he said at halftime did the trick as Everton quickly levelled when Distin headed in from a Mikel Arteta corner despite Glen Johnson's best efforts to try to clear off the line.

Leon Osman got on the end of a Victor Anichebe header and used some nifty footwork to find Beckford who unleashed his shot past Pepe Reina while sliding to the ground.

For all Howard's good work in keeping his side in the game, it was his mistake that gave away the penalty when he took down Rodriguez in the box.

Kuyt stepped up to the spot to take the kick in the absence of captain Steven Gerrard, who was serving the second of a three-match ban, and salvaged a point that kept Everton and Liverpool level on 26 points in the middle of the table.

 

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