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Paul's pearler

Liverpool's new 2.3 million pound Paul Stewart crowned an impressive Anfield debut with the winning goal against Sheffield United.

Dean Saunders beat two defenders on the right, chipped deep to the far post and Stewart stole in unmarked tot tuck the ball away under Simon Tracey's body after 65 minutes.

Liverpool fell behind after 35 minutes when David Burrows hesitated deep in his own half, allowing bustling Sheffield United striker Brian Deane to rob him, stride forward and score with a thunderous shot.

But two minutes before the break Ronnie Whelan's intelligent pass found Mark Wright in space on the edge of the United area and the winger's low angled drive flew into the far corner of the net.

United had escaped in the first minute when Tracey went down injured outside his area in a challenge on Walters. In the resulting scramble Stewart lobbed the loose ball over the bar.

Deane saw a half-blocked shot smack straight into the arms of Liverpool keeper David James, also making his home debut, and then tried an overhead kick from a Carl Bradshaw header with James stranded, but saw his effort clear the bar.

Liverpool's Steve McManaman pulled a ball back from the right flank for whelan to chip over the Sheffield rearguard, Stewart's outstretched leg diverting the ball across the face of the goal and fractionally wide.

After the break chances were at a premium until Stewart pounced, Michael Thomas producing the first notable save from Tracey with a rising shot from a tight angle on the right.

United almost grabbed the equaliser when Ian Bryson rose unmarked and came within a whisker of connecting with a Glyn Hodges corner in the closing stages.

Stewart described his winning goal on his home debut as "the perfect start" to his Anfield career. "It's always nice to score a goal at home or away, but it's obviously special because it was my home debut and I wanted to do well for the fans. It's the perfect start for me. I felt comfortable as soon as I came here. The lads made me very welcome and I felt part of the club straight away."

Manager Graeme Souness said: "We worked hard and played some good football and deserved to win against a side who always make life hard for you. There are still a lot of things to iron out, but we played very well in patches."

Copyright - British Soccer Week



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