Andy Carroll hailed the valuable contribution of his strike partner Luis Suarez as Liverpool safely navigated their passage into the third round of the Carling Cup. The victory handed manager Kenny Dalglish his 200th victory in charge of the club.
Goals from Luis Suarez, Maxi Rodriguez and Carroll ensured the Reds avoided a banana skin against Exeter at the same stage which had caught out Premier League quartet Sunderland, Swansea City, Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City 24 hours earlier.
The Anfield outfit will be in the hat for the draw on Saturday lunchtime, and much of the thanks for that go to Suarez. Fresh from his goal against Arsenal, he scored a 23rd-minute opener before assisting further second-half strikes from Rodriguez and Carroll in a stylish 60-minute cameo. Carroll said: "Luis was great. Obviously everyone knows what he is about and he just did it again tonight."
After Rodriguez doubled the lead, former Newcastle United striker Carroll scored his first goal of the season. While Liverpool manager Dalglish will have been pleased with the rasping 20-yard drive, England chief Fabio Capello will have been delighted that Carroll, on as a first-half substitute for the injured Raul Meireles, sealed a comfortable victory in the West Country ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers next month.
Carroll said: "It's nice to get off the mark. I thought the lads played well and we scored some good goals. It has been a good day for everyone."
Liverpool did not want to take their lower league opponents lightly having being knocked out of this competition by Northampton Town on penalties at Anfield last season.
And they made no mistake against their League One hosts. Manager Dalglish saluted his players for an extremely professional job. He said: "We want to win games and the more we win, the harder we will be to beat. We will treat the Carling Cup like any other game. The next one is a league match against Bolton, but we will be totally committed and focused to try and win that.
"The better the players play and train together, the better the understanding will be. But the most commendable thing was the players' attitude."
The only downside of the win was the first-half injury to Meireles, who departed after a challenge by Exeter defender Danny Coles. Dalglish added: "Raul has hurt his collarbone. I don't know what the technical term is but he fell heavily. He will come back with us and we will see how long it is before he is back. It will be a few weeks."
Meanwhile, Exeter must now lift themselves for a league encounter against Chesterfield this weekend, but manager Paul Tidsdale said: "I am proud of the way we played and the boys can be pleased with what they showed and it was nice to get on the scoresheet.
"I am more than happy with how we came back after a slow start. We were expecting a strongish side and they had an extremely strong bench, so we knew we didn't want to score too early! It is always difficult when you come up against players of that quality."
Exeter City (4-5-1): Krysiak; Goldbourne, Duffy, Coles (Nichols, 77), Jones; Noble , Archibald-Henville, Shepherd (McNish, 65), Dunne, Nardiello; Bauza (Keohane 26) Substitutes not used Pidgeley, Logan, Frear, Bennett.
Liverpool (4-5-1): Reina; Flanagan, Skrtel, Robinson, Wilson; Henderson, Spearing, Adam (Shelvey 77), Meireles (Carroll 21), Rodriguez; Suarez (Downing 59) Substitutes not used Doni, Jose Enrique, Kuyt, Downing, Carragher.
Referee T Bates (Staffordshire).Reuse content