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Liverpool go second as Heskey seals win

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON passed up the chance to herald Arsenal's double triumph last night and, instead, left Anfield having seen Matt Jansen, on the fringes of his World Cup squad, steal a late goal. 

But just when Jansen was considering that he had done enough to earn Blackburn a point, another forward who will be in Eriksson's squad ended a quiet performance by claiming the 86th-minute winner in a thrilling contest.

Emile Heskey's goal - after Eriksson had left - took Liverpool into second place and within one game of securing automatic qualification for next season's Champions League.

Eriksson took his seat as the World Cup wannabe's went on to the pitch but one of those hoping for a call, Danny Murphy, took just 13 seconds to make the England coach wonder whether he might have to cross his name off the list.

Murphy went into a challenge with Blackburn's robust Australian, Lucas Neill, and the midfielder's nose was struck by a boot. After lengthy treatment he continued but if he is in the squad he might need a new passport photo.

Clearly there was little wrong with Murphy; within 23 minutes he had given Eriksson food for thought when he put Liverpool ahead with an opportunist goal.

It was made by John Arne Riise on the left and though Murphy slipped, he brought his trailing left leg into contact with the ball, which slipped through a forest of legs and beyond Alan Kelly.

Perhaps Murphy had been inspired by the action at the opposite end two minutes earlier when a possible rival, Jansen, showed deft footwork before sending a dangerous left-foot attempt only wide of Jerzy Dudek's goal.

Earlier, three England players had conspired to waste a chance when Steven Gerrard fed Heskey and his cross presented Michael Owen with an opportunity he should have taken. Instead he allowed Kelly, deputising for American Brad Friedel - once of Anfield - to save with his legs.

Blackburn, though, are made of stern stuff and they equalised with an exquisite goal. Damien Duff exchanged passes with Jansen and then with Henning Berg before dispatching a low shot into the far corner of the net.

Murphy was again in the wars, requiring treatment for the damage to his back he incurred in attempting to regain Liverpool's lead.

Another with something to prove is Nicolas Anelka, on loan from Paris St Germain. He claimed early yesterday that he was determined to join permanently and that a fee, believed to be around £12 million, had been agreed - and he improved his case for a deal by scoring Liverpool's second goal.

Owen had another attempt deflected wide 10 minutes before the interval and, from Gerrard's corner, Sami Hyypia glanced a header wide.

Anelka regained the lead for Liverpool in the 38th minute when, from another Riise pass, the Frenchman cut in from the right and sent a delightful shot into the far corner.

Eriksson had only just taken his seat for the second half when Andy Cole levelled for Blackburn. Neill's 49th-minute cross fell invitingly for Cole and though his header was both direct and powerful, Jerzy Dudek will be disappointed that he failed to prevent a goal after getting both hands on the ball.

But Murphy impressed again three minutes later when he delivered the perfect free-kick for Hyypia to glance a header beyond Kelly for Liverpool's third goal.

In the 80th minute Blackburn levelled for the third time when Keith Gillespie crossed from the right and Jansen capped a good performance by converting at the far post.

But Heskey set off on a terrific run with four minutes remaining and finished with a sweet shot.

Copyright - The Telegraph

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