Ashley Barnes
Brighton and Hove Albion's Barnes scores a penalty against Liverpool during their League Cup match in Brighton. REUTERS

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard played for the first time in six months as they overcame a spirited Brighton 2-1 in the Carling Cup third round Wednesday.

Gerrard, sidelined for six months after groin surgery, came through the final twenty minutes unscathed but manager Kenny Dalglish warned his comeback still needs to be carfeully monitored.

"It was fantastic for everyone connected to the club to see Steven back, but we're more pleased for Steven than anything else," Dalglish told BBC Sport.

"He's worked really hard and had a few disappointments along the way, so to get 20 minutes or so will give him a real lift.

"We will manage the situation as diligently as we have done so far. We need to be careful and we won't get carried away."

Dalglish signalled his intent to win the competition by sending out a strong line-up against Championship high-flyers Brighton.

Craig Bellamy opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he combined with Luis Suarez to finish with aplomb.

The 32-year-old also hit a first-half free-kick against the bar with a rasping 40-yard drive and his pace and instant understanding with Suarez augured well for Liverpool's Premier league campaign.

Dirk Kuyt sealed their place in the fourth round with a scuffed finish in the 81st minute.

A late Ashley Barnes penalty gave Brighton hope of taking the game to extra-time but it was a case of too little, too late for Gus Poyet's side.