St Patrik's Day

by Ken Gaunt of "Press Association"

Patrik Berger maintained his remarkable scoring spree tonight to put Liverpool firmly in the driving seat in this Cup Winners' Cup second round second-leg match, but Robbie Fowler was a surprise absentee from the Liverpool side tonight as they defended a slender 1-0 lead in the Cup Winners' Cup. The England striker picked up an ankle injury in training and that gave Stan Collymore another chance to redeem himself in the eyes of manager Roy Evans.

Liverpool were only inches away from adding to their first leg advantage when Stig Bjornebye, scorer of the goal in Finland, sent a shot into the side netting after Steve McManaman's effort had been blocked. McManaman also sent in a blistering shot from 25 yards just wide of the post after John Barnes had played the ball through. Liverpool then took the lead after 17 minutes when Patrik Berger marked his European debut with his fifth goal in just three games for the club. The Czech Republic star tucked the ball into the corner after a mistake by former Aston Villa reserve David Moore to send the Kop wild with delight.

Liverpool were forced to make a change after 19 minutes when Mark Wright, who had been struggling to shake off a knee injury, was replaced by John Scales. The Finns nearly conceded another goal and were grateful to keeper Petri Jakonen who made a superb save from Phil Babb's well directed header. Liverpool were dominating the match in front of a big Anfield crowd and McManaman picked out Jason McAteer, who saw his shot just slide wide of the post. The England winger was seeing plenty of the ball and in another surging run delivered a shot that was safely saved by the hard pressed Jakonen.

The Finnish side were looking totally demoralised and overawed by the occasion, although Niclas Gronholm managed to test keeper David James with an 18 yard shot. The Liverpool fans were outraged two minutes before half-time when John Barnes appeared to have scored a glorious second, only for it to be ruled out for offside.

Liverpool went ahead on the night after 17 minutes when Berger pounced on a mistake by former Aston Villa reserve David Moore.
He then nutmegged Mika Viljanen before burying the ball in the corner for his fifth goal in just three matches for Liverpool after his £3 million move from Borussia Dortmund. Liverpool looked to have scored a second two minutes from half-time, but John Barnes' superb 18 yard effort was surprisingly ruled out for an infringement.

Liverpool added a deserved second goal after 59 minutes -- and it was a moment to savour for Collymore. Brought into the side at the last minute because of Fowler's injury, he scored only his second goal of the season after latching on to a through ball from Barnes.

The strike put Liverpool 2-0 ahead on the night and 3-0 in front on aggregate to surely book their place in tomorrow's second round draw. My Pa used to crowds of 2,000 stuck to their task in front of a bumper gate of 39,013 and were rewarded with a consolation goal after 63 minutes through Mauri Keskitalo, but Barnes sealed the victory with Liverpool's third goal twelve minutes from time.
Liverpool centre-back Mark Wright is facing six weeks on the sidelines after suffering a depressed fracture of the cheekbone tonight.
Wright picked up the injury during the club's 3-1 victory against My-Pa 47 in the Cup Winners' Cup first round second leg match at Anfield.

Wright was forced to go off in the 19th minute after a clash of heads with the Finnish club's Chester-born striker John Allen.
Wright will now go into hospital tomorrow (Fri) for an operation and manager Roy Evans said: "He could be out for around six weeks. It's very unfortunate for him and the club."

Robbie Fowler and goalkeeper David James are both suffering from ankle injuries, although the England striker is expected to be fit for the match against West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday.

Liverpool, 1-0 ahead from the first leg in Finland secured their passage to the second round thanks to goals from Patrik Berger -- his fifth in three games, Stan Collymore and John Barnes, with the visitors grabbing a consolation after 63 minutes through Mauri Keskitalo.

Evans said: "It was a comfortable enough victory, although losing the goal was a shock. I am satisfied with the performance. It was good for Stan that he got on the score sheet although he seemed to be lacking in confidence. Patrik again played well but it's not just a one man team. There are other players who give him the service for his goals."

Finnish coach Harri Kampman said: "My favourite team is Ajax, but Liverpool play in a style similar to them. They are one of the top clubs in the world. They are a very attractive side who play one and two touch football. I think they have every chance of winning the competition."

Copyright - Press Association

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