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Oh, what a fade-out, Liverpool!

This was an amazing fade-out. If I had been asked to complete the match ratings at the end of the first quarter of an hour, I would have given 8's and 9's galore to a rampaging Liverpool side.

For they played fast, open football, feeding cock-a-hoop A'Court with long, sweeping passes so that it looked as though lowly Portsmouth were in for the hiding of the season.

That they didn't get it was because Liverpool did everything right but shoot. Always Melia, Hunt and Harrower had to tee the ball up before having a go, and that gave the Portsmouth defenders second wind and brought them back into the game.

It was the same old Anfield story of easing up when they had taken the lead. The forwards had tip-tapped in front of the Portsmouth goal until Moran came up for a short A'Court corner and smashed the ball first time past Beattie.

Too fast

Only five minutes had gone then, but not another worthwhile shot came Beattie's way.

And all the time Portsmouth were tightening up. Cutler realised he was too fast for Wheeler and Molyneux, and no-one was surprised when Newman equalised in the 49th minute.

From then it was a tussle between the packed, tough Portsmouth defence and a frantic Liverpool side from which all skill had disappeared.

Shamelessly, the Portsmouth defence booted the ball anywhere, though in Dickinson and Hayward they had two rare destroyers of those Liverpool rushes.

In the last few minutes Cutler nearly won the match for Portsmouth with a shot that hit the bar.

Copyright - The People

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