Roy Hodgson got off to a winning start in his biggest challenge so far – as Liverpool on the strength of a brace by David Ngog overcame Macedonian club FK Rabotnicki in their Europa Cup qualifying game. ‘Pool rested 10 of their World Cup stars including captain Steven Gerrard, new signing Joe Cole, Jamie Carragher, and Glen Johnson.
Javier Mascherano, the subject of unceasing transfer gossip also did not travel, as did newly committed Fernando Torres. Others left were Maxi Rodriguez, Ryan Babel, Dirk Kuyt, and goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
However, Ngog provided enough of a spark to impress Hodgson to consider a bigger role for the French striker this season:
“Ngog has done well in all of the three games he has played for me. He crowned his good performance with two goals and that’s what strikers need to do.”
Liverpool built a solid foundation through good defending by Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Sotirios Krygiakos which gave its attack the confidence it needed to raid Rabotnicki.
The match had some distasteful moments when Rabotnicki supporters targeted Ngog and David Amoo with racist chants. UEFA has launched an investigation.