Reds shed heartache

Two fine goals by Israeli international Ronnie Rosenthal and Ian Rush's 200th League goal helped Liverpool shake off their midweek European exit with a convincing home win against Middlesbrough.

Liverpool attacked with confidence against a hesitant Boro defence in a victory that will give manager Graeme Souness great satisfaction against the team he played for before signing for the Reds as a player.

Rosenthal scored the opening goal after nine minutes, interrupting Jon Gittens' weak backpass to skip around the desperate challenge of 'keeper Stephen Pears and score from a narrow angle.

His second was a brilliant individual effort after 38 minutes in which he held off the luckless Gittens to hammer in a rising shot Pears could only touch into the top corner.

Boro fought back and John Hendrie was brought down by Liverpool keeper Mike Hooper after slipping the ball past him on 41 minutes. Jimmy Phillips scored the penalty with a powerful low drive that Hooper did well to reach but could only divert high into the net.

But Liverpool virtually killed off the game on the stroke of half-time when Don Hutchison found Steve McManaman who lashed home a rising shot.

Ian Rush kept the fans waiting until the 89th minute to score only his second league goal of the season, rising to head home Paul Stewart's deep cross.

Pears had been the busier keeper throughout, distinguishing himself with a brave double save from Hutchison and Rush, who also had a header cleared off the line by Phillips. Eight minutes from time Pears denied Rosenthal his hat-trick, parrying brilliantly from close range.

After 87 minutes Hooper got down well to parry Robbie Mustoe's low drive through a crowded penalty area and substitute Bernie Slaven followed up to hit the post.

Liverpool hope to have England winger John Barnes available for the next Premier League game at Queens Park Rangers.

Barnes has faced a long fitness battle after being injured against Finland in the build-up to this summer's European Championships but he completed his first 45 minutes of competitive football this season in Liverpool A team's 1-0 defeat against Tranmere Rovers.

Delighted boss Graeme Souness said: "He played 45 minutes today and came through without any problems. His target now really should be QPR. I'm hoping he will work exceptionally hard and his target will be to get on the Liverpool bench for that game. I originally said we would be lucky to see him this side of Christmas, which took the pressure off him but he has worked very hard and I hope he sees his target as we do."

Souness was also delighted with his side's triumph against his old club Middlesbrough. "In the second half the pace of the game and the hard 90 minutes in midweek told on us, but we were worthy winners today. We gave 110% on Wednesday and to do that and get nothing can affect you - but it didn't today and I'm absolutely delighted."

Welsh international striker Ian Rush scored his 200th League goal in the closing moments of and admitted: "I wasn't sure beforehand that it was the 200th but it was very nice to get it - especially at the Kop End."

Middlesbrough boss Lennie Lawrence said the match convinced him of the need to sign at least one new player to bolster his injury-hit side, which lost skipper Alan Kernaghan with a hamstring injury.

"The team needs more help and I've got to provide it. One or two of them are finding it hard to cope with the continuing high demands of this league," said Lawrence. "We've been beaten before but this is the first time we've been walloped and it has focused my mind clearly."

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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