Liverpool - still in the running

Bosom buddies Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Fowler grabbed a goal in each half as Liverpool continued their 100 per cent record and extended Leeds' growing frustrations.

Redknapp put the Anfield side on the way to their eighth game without defeat with a stunning free-kick to claim his first Premiership goal of the campaign.

And as Liverpool asserted their supremacy, his England Under-21 team-mate Fowler grabbed his 20th goal of the season after a shocking mistake by David Wetherall 14 minutes from time.

Liverpool's win keeps them hot on the heels of the Premiership's top two, but Leeds fans vented their anger on their team and manager Howard Wilkinson as they trooped off a dejected second best.

Roy Evans' side could have gone ahead as early as the fifth minute, when they had strong penalty claims turned down when Wetherall appeared to push Fowler from behind as he dived to head a Rob Jones cross.

Sloppy play by John Barnes resulted in Gary Kelly testing David James and Phil Masinga headed wide after Phil Babb allowed him to tun onto Lucas Radebe's deep cross, but Liverpool took the lead in the 18th minute.

Skipper Ian Rush won possession in the midfield morass and was brought down by Wetherall 25 yards out.

Redknapp strode up to curl the ball over the wall and, although John Lukic reached out with his right hand, he was only able to push the ball onto the post and over the line.

Although Leeds continued to push forward, the Radebe-Masinga combination almost creating an equaliser when the striker left John Scales for dead before curling past the post, Liverpool looked increasingly dangerous.

Steve McManaman was causing confusion as he popped up all over the place to torment the Leeds backline and an error by Radebe nearly let in Rush for a second, Lukic saving the striker's stinging drive.

Masinga's cross just eluded Wetherall's head, but another fast break by the Anfield side ended with Rush unable to turn home McManaman's cross.

Fowler nearly got in on the end of a one-two with Rush at the start of the second period and the dominance of Roy Evans' side made them look ever more likely to add to their lead.

Leeds' best hope appeared to be the inconsistent handling of James, but their cause was not helped when Tony Dorigo pulled up with a torn hamstring.

Wilkinson made a double substitution, Nigel Worthington and David White replacing Dorigo and the out-of-touch Gordon Strachan, but only Gary McAllister seemed to have the stomach for the fight.

John Pemberton hacked off the line after Stig Bjornebye had chipped past Lukic, but the relief of the unhappy home fans lasted barely a minute before Fowler sealed victory.

Wetherall's woeful back header dropped straight into the teenager's path and, although Lukic half-blocked his left-foot effort, the ball tricked off the post and over the line.

James saved from White as Leeds attempted a late rally, but the boos ringing around Elland Road at the final whistle told their own story.

By contrast, Liverpool chief Roy Evans was smiling after the victory: "We couldn't have asked for more than maximum points from the holiday period. The effort and application we showed was first class and if we keep it there's a good chance of us ending up as a team. Jamie's goal helped take the pressure off. It gave us confidence, which was very important, and that was the difference between the two teams."

As for Liverpool's championship chances, Evans said cautiously: "Blackburn and United are still in the driving seat but we've done ourselves no harm over Christmas. We're in the sort of position now where if they slip up we can take advantage. But we've got to keep the pressure on them."

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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