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Dalglish hails Bellamy influence after Reds hit semis

LIVERPOOL manager Kenny Dalglish praised Craig Bellamy after the Wales forward inspired the 2-0 Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea.

Bellamy returned to action little more than 48 hours after being withdrawn from the squad for Sunday's clash with Manchester City on passionate grounds.

The 32-year-old was mourning the loss of friend Gary Speed and stood with his head bowed during the minute's applause held at Stamford Bridge in remembrance of the Wales manager.

In the second half, Bellamy came alive, setting up goals for Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly as Chelsea were swept aside.

"Craig is a fantastic footballer who had a hugely disappointing day on Sunday. He regarded Gary Speed as a mentor," said Dalglish.

"It was great for the wee man, making the first goal. For the second he took the free-kick. He told Martin to leave it, it was going in.

"I don't know if we took Chelsea apart but we were delighted with the way we played. We've had a good day and we deserved to go through."

Dalglish took a swipe at competition organisers for the scheduling of matches that forced Liverpool to play two games in three days.

"The way we're progressing is more significant than reaching the semi-final of a cup that's been cheapened by the actions of the people who run it," he said.


"But that doesn't mean to say we wouldn't love to win it. We've got our reward.

"Three teams in the quarter-finals have problems with fixtures. Do us a favour. I'm not clever but I think I could have avoided that."

The scrutiny of Andre Villas-Boas' position as Chelsea manager will intensify after their exit was their third home defeat in four games.

Villas-Boas admitted Stamford Bridge had become anxious and called for fans to throw their support behind the team in the crucial forthcoming fixtures against Valencia and Manchester City.

"At home we just haven't been good enough," he said. "We need to get our fans behind us and get the emotions right. You can feel Stamford Bridge has become anxious. We therefore need support."