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17 Sep 2010

Joe Cole scored his first goal for Liverpool to help them beat Steaua Bucharest in their Europa League tie.

The Reds playmaker steered in a shot only 27 seconds in after pouncing on a poor backpass by Octavian Abrudan.

Steaua equalised when Cristian Tanase chipped over on-rushing keeper Pepe Reina but a David Ngog penalty restored the Reds' lead.

A stunning Lucas Leiva 22-yard strike and a late angled Ngog effort completed the home side's victory.

While the Europa League is not a priority for Liverpool, their manager Roy Hodgson will be using the games in the competition to judge some of the players on the fringes of his squad.

However, for Cole, the club's European games have allowed him to keep up his match fitness while serving a domestic ban for his dismissal in the club's league opener against Arsenal.

Cole will be available again to play Manchester United on Sunday and showed flashes of the imagination the Reds want him to bring into their team.

He was allowed to give the home side a perfect start when he ran on to Abrudan's tame backpass and guided his effort into the far corner.

Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing sent a long range strike fizzing just over before the Romanian side hit back in style.

Bogdan Stancu slid a pass in for Tanase, who nonchalantly dinked the ball over Reina.

The goal gave Steaua a renewed confidence and belief as they showed some of the attacking intent promised by manager Ilie Dumistrescu.

Dumitrescu had spells at Tottenham and West Ham in his playing career and, when at Spurs he was part of the attack-orientated team put together by their former manager Ossie Ardiles.

Steaua were not quite as gung-ho but had a threat, purpose and pace about them on occasion as they tried to catch Liverpool out on the counter-attack.

The home side had some nervous moments at the back before they reasserted their authority after the break.

They were rewarded when Ngog converted a penalty following a foul on Sotirios Kyrgiakos by Pantelis Kapetanos.

Raul Meireles was making his first start for the Merseysiders and he had a well-struck 20-yard shot smartly saved by Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Steaua's keeper, though, had no chance when substitute Lucas ran on to the ball 22 yards out and unleashed a ferocious strike before Ngog put a further gloss on Liverpool's win.

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