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Mac's the man

Steve McManaman ended a two-year goal drought at Anfield with a hat-trick as Liverpool fought back from a half-time deficit to beat Sheffield Wednesday.

McManaman started his romp in exhilarating fashion after 54 minutes, swaying in to the centre from the left flank on a superb, teasing run before unleashing a magnificent that left 'keeper Kevin Pressman helpless.

Twelve minutes later McManaman's luck was in, when his shot took a cruel deflection off defender Des Walker to loop high over the unfortunate 'keeper and into the net. [originally it was given to Macca but later changed into an own goal by Des Walker].

And after 86 minutes, Ian Rush slipped the ball out to Phil Babb on the left and he pulled the ball back low for the advancing McManaman to sweep home.

Sheffield Wednesday's Ian Nolan had rifled his side into the lead after 33 minutes when he cropped up unmarked on the left to smash in an angled drive after Mark Bright's header fell invitingly to him.

Neil Ruddock tried desperately to clear off the line but could only help the ball home.

But Rush slotted home Liverpool's equaliser after 51 minutes after Pressman could only parry Stig Inge Bjornebye's shot into his path.

Rush had almost given Liverpool the lead after 26 minutes, exchanging passes with McManaman before seeing his fierce shot well parried by Pressman. The Welsh striker collected the rebound but this time the agile 'keeper dived to hold on to his accurate low drive.

Pressman performed more heroics at the start of the second half, after McManaman's cross found Rob Jones whose chip was headed off the line. The 'keeper blocked Bjornebye's shot and recovered to save McManaman's follow-up effort before Molby's shot was finally deflected for a corner.

Liverpool goalkeeper David James did well to tip a dipping long range effort over his bar from Graham Hyde in the first half, but should have been given no chance as Bright squandered three fine scoring opportunities.

John Sheridan was the other culprit, as the visitors wasted opportunities that could have made the scoreline much more respectable for them.

McManaman cheerfully confirmed that he was claiming his hat-trick.

There was some controversy about the second of the midfielder's three goals, which took a cruel deflection off Des Walker. Wednesday boss Trevor Francis expressed the view that it was an own goal.

But McManaman said: "I'm claiming the hat trick without a doubt - you've got to! It's not often that I get the goals."

Of his spectacular first effort he said: "I just kept on running, saw the gap and hit it. At the end I offered the ball to the linesman but the referee came up to me and gave me the ball."

Liverpool boss Roy Evans said: "McManaman has been outstanding in many ways this season. He is creating that amount of chances in each game and it was nice to see him putting them away. He was very positive today, in the second half especially. I'll credit him with all three goals."

But despite the scoreline Evans had some reservations about the performance and the amount of chances Wednesday were able to create. "I've got to praise my own players for their effort but to be fair to Sheffield Wednesday I don't think the 4-1 scoreline did them any favours. It was closer than that."

It was a view endorsed by Francis who said: "Today we had as much possession as them. We had 11 shots at goal in the first half and only two were on target. That tells us our approach work is good but our finishing isn't good enough. Goals determine the outcome of games. We were 1-0 at half-time and in the second half we had five excellent chances - Mark Bright had a hat-trick of chances. If you don't take those you are going to get problems - 4-1 looks like a hammering but I have to say I thought we played well. The players know we've got to score a far greater ratio of goals than we are doing."

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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