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Liverpool FC midfielder Lucas reflected happily on his finest goal in a red shirt and praised fellow scorer David Ngog for his two-goal contribution after some of the Merseysiders' supposed lesser lights shone in the 4-1 victory over FC Steaua Bucureşti.
With Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres watching the Group K opener from the Main Stand, Lucas provided the spectacular finish that is usually the preserve of that pair when driving in Liverpool's points-sealing third goal two minutes after his introduction as a 79th-minute substitute. "It was my best for Liverpool, a nice strike in front of the Kop," the Brazilian said of his effort from over 20 metres.
Ngog iced the cake by drilling a fourth in the closing seconds, adding to the 55th-minute penalty he converted to restore Liverpool's lead after Steaua captain Cristian Tănase had equalised Joe Cole's opener 27 seconds in – the Reds' fastest-ever European goal. Lucas told UEFA.com: "After the early goal they had more possession but we had more chances after we came back in the second half. We controlled the game and after the penalty we were on top."
The penalty came when Gerardo Alves was penalised for holding Sotiris Kyrgiakos in the box. "It was an important moment, it was a clear penalty and David took it well and gave us the lead," Lucas said. Ngog, Torres's 21-year-old deputy, now has five goals in this fledgling UEFA Europa League campaign and Lucas added: "He has been really good for us and has also got one in the league. He's improving all the time."
Ngog was not the only player who enjoyed the opportunity afforded by manager Roy Hodgson's decision to make eight changes from Sunday's draw at Birmingham City FC. Homegrown midfielder Jay Spearing, without a game in the Premier League this term, said: "Obviously tonight was a massive confidence boost for myself and the rest of the young lads. We need the games and hopefully we can go far in the competition."
Spearing admitted the match was "quite tight" in the first half when Steaua kept the ball comfortably, albeit without troubling Liverpool's defence. He added: "We knew we had to go out early in the second half and get a goal and we did that; we all found a different gear. We need to win all our home games if we want to progress in the competition and tonight we showed we are capable of doing that."
Anfield also had its first glimpse of Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles, who played the full 90 minutes on his home debut, operating alongside Spearing in the middle. He said: "
The fans are great and we got the win which is the most important thing. The first time they got into our box they scored a goal but in the second half we played really well and managed to get the win."
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