Robbie Fowler celebrated his 100th goal for Liverpool today in only 165 appearances as Middlesbrough were swept aside at Anfield. And the 21-year-old Toxteth-born striker marked the occasion by unveiling a T-shirt with the words "Job's A Good 'Un." scrawled on it. Certainly Fowler is a special talent as he proved with a superb four-goal flourish against Bryan Robson's strugglers.
Fowler must have known it was going to be his day when he scored the opening goal after 29 seconds the fastest in the Premiership this season. He then joined the 100 club with his 15th goal of the season after 28 minutes and then spent the next 60 seconds showing off h isT-shirt to his team-mates. Stig Bjornebye got a third before half-time with Fowler adding two more after the break to complete Middlesbrough's misery.
Middlesbrough boss Robson had recalled Emerson to his line-up with the Brazilian making his first appearance in the Premiership for six weeks. But he may as well have been resting on a beach in Rio for all the impact he had on this game. But it would be unfair to rest all Middlesbrough's problems at his door. There are other issues Robson needs to address.
Central defenders Phil Whelan and Derek Whyte struggled to cope with the power and pace of Fowler and Stan Collymore, recalled in place of flu-victim Patrik Berger. Emerson was left trailing in Collymore's slipstream immediately after the kick-off with the striker taking the ball to the edge of the area. Collymore's shot hit a defender and broke to Fowler, who steered the ball beyond stranded keeper Gary Walsh.
Middlesbrough, without a win in their previous 11 matches, could not have had a worse start and their problems increased after 28 minutes when they went further behind. Collymore, bright and lively, smashed in a shot that struck the foot of the post and Fowler, following up, swept the ball home to set a Liverpool landmark.
Liverpool added a third on the stroke of half-time and again Collymore had a part in the goal. He whipped in a free kick that Walsh got a hand to only for Stig Bjornebye to steer in the rebound.
Middlesbrough flickered briefly in the second half although Fabrizio Ravanelli was unable to get in the game. Like Emerson he must have felt he would have been better employed elsewhere. Jan Fjortoft got a consolation goal after 75 minutes when he headed in a free kick from Craig Hignett.
But that only spurred Fowler into action with two goals in seven minutes to complete Liverpool's domination and keep their title challenge on track. Steve McManaman, who scorned a glorious chances earlier, released Fowler and he made no mistake. Then in the 84th minute he got his fourth and his 17th of the season when he sold a dummy to keeper Walsh.
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