Match Report

Andy Carroll was on target as Liverpool concluded their pre-season programme with a 2-0 win against Valencia on Saturday evening.

The No.9 fired in at the second attempt after just six minutes before substitute Dirk Kuyt bundled in a late clincher as Kenny Dalglish's side warmed up for next week's curtain-raiser with Sunderland in style.

The Reds played some vibrant attacking football at times and the added bonus of a clean sheet will have left the squad buoyed heading into 2011-12.

On what began as a sunny afternoon in L4, Fabio Aurelio's first appearance since May was the subject of the pre-match natter as a trio of the club's new recruits were also handed their first Anfield experience in a red shirt.

Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson were all starters as the boss looked to use the encounter as a dress rehearsal for the showdown with the Black Cats.

The visitors arrived in the early stages of their preparations for 2011-12 and the opportunity was there for Liverpool to make a fast start.

An exquisite flick from Alberto Aquilani had the Kop purring early doors before Downing and Henderson combined to tee up an almighty goalmouth melee that Los Che just about survived.

Next it was Aurelio's run and pass that released Downing once again but the winger's teasing, low cross just evaded Carroll in the centre.

There was a definite feeling in the air that Liverpool weren't far off an opener and on six minutes they were handed the initiative.

David Albelda under hit a woeful back pass allowing Carroll to rampage in on goal. The England forward saw his first shot rebound back off the post via Diego Alves's fingertips and had to follow in to tuck home from a tight angle.

It was the perfect start for King Kenny and co but there joy was soured just moments later when Glen Johnson was forced off through injury.

The visitors had barely set foot in the Reds half at the quarter of an hour mark but finally gave a warning of their quality on the break when Mehmet Topal came close to diverting a left-wing cross beyond Pepe Reina.

Liverpool responded and Henderson let fly with a low effort from distance before Carroll once again took advantage of a defensive error, but this time his shot was too tame to beat Alves.

The frustration seemed to get the better of the England man who responded by launching into a late challenge on Adil Rami that may well have resulted in more than a yellow card in a competitive encounter.

As the interval approached the home team continued to dominate the proceedings and Downing's link-up play with Aurelio once again carved open the Valencia defence, but his low cross was hacked clear at the near post.

The away side's star player, Juan Mata had barely touched the ball but almost made a telling contribution with a devilish cross that Jamie Carragher did well to turn behind at full stretch.

Dalglish would have been more than satisfied with the first 45 and responded by giving Lucas Leiva his first run-out following his Copa America adventure. Jack Robinson also appeared at the restart in place of the impressive Aurelio.

Both sides had made changes and it seemed to disrupt the flow of the game as Dani Parejo's speculative shot from 35 yards was the best of the goalmouth action up to the hour mark.

Cue a quartet of substitutions from Dalglish, three of whom combined for a Liverpool opening just seconds later.

Dirk Kuyt crossed to the far post for Maxi Rodriguez, who saw his venomous volley diverted just wide by David Ngog.

The opportunity spurred the Reds into life and Daniel Agger saw a shot arrow into the Kop before Maxi repeated the trick with a somewhat ambitious drive.

As the clock ticked down Valencia began to push forward in search of an unlikely draw, but Liverpool countered and sealed the win when Kuyt turned home a late free-kick.

Head to Head - Valencia