New Delhi: Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season got a much needed boost at the weekend with a 4-0 win over Burnley and kept the same XI for their Champions League kick-off.
Which meant starts for the in-form Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson, while Steven Gerrard continued with his more central midfield role alongside Lucas.
Debrecen faced the daunting task of making their Champions League debut at Anfield without suspended midfield pair Jozef Varga and Tibor Dombi as well as striker Gergely Rudolf who missed out through a knee injury.
This was already the Hungarian champions seventh game in this year’s competition having gone through the qualifying round to reach the group stages for the first time.
With the onus on the home side to attack, Debrecan started the match happy to let Liverpool attack and soap up the pressure. Reducing Liverpool to efforts from range by Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt that both went wide of the visitors goal.
As the first half wore on, with the Hungarians defending with discipline they came more into the match as an attacking force and forced Pepe Reina into the first meaningful save of the game.
Attacking Liverpool’s left, the ball was half cleared to the edge of the box where Peter Czvitkovics was waiting to hit a thunderous strike that Reina needed to tip over the Liverpool bar.
Ten minutes later Liverpool opened up the Hungarians for the first time. Jamie Carragher threaded a neat ball in the path of Albert Riera who was clean through but hit his shot straight at Vukasin Poleksic and Kuyt’s followed up was cleared off the line by the Debrecan defence.
Reira and Gerrard then went close until the breakthrough came a minute before the break.
Benayoun fed Torres on the edge of the box and who’s shot through defenders legs was saved by Poleksic but straight into the path of Kuyt who pounced on the rebound and netted Liverpool’s opening goal of their Champions League campaign, and his third of the season.
Into the second half and Debrecan continued to defend doggedly, when many were expected the flood gates to open.
Gerrard hit a furious volley that just missed the top corner and Benyoun forced Poleksic into a another smart stop as Liverpool tried to put the game beyond the visitors.
Like in the first half, Debrecan grew in confidence and nearly equalised when Adamo Coulibaly beat the offside trap and lifted the ball over Reina only to see Carragher head the ball out of danger.
Rafael Benitez bought on Ryan Babel with 10 minutes to go, and the Dutch Internationl came close with a deflected shot but there were no more goals and Liverpool sealed their 100th win in the European Cup thanks to Dirk Kuyt's first half strike