Various reports from PA, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail and The Times
RAGING REDS LEAVE JOE LAMENTING
from "British Soccer Week"
Merseyside marvels Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler shattered Liverpool's Wimbledon bogey with two stunning goals at Anfield.
The young guns both struck in the first half as Roy Evans' rampant Reds ended the Londoners' nine-match unbeaten streak against Liverpool in emphatic style.
Wimbledon had not lost at Anfield in four previous visits but Joe Kinnear's shadow squad - hit by injury and suspension - was no match for stylish Liverpool.
McManaman had rendered previous results between the sides meaningless by the 36th minute as he scored a superb goal before setting up the second for Fowler with a marvellous run.
The 22-year-old made the breakthrough Liverpool's brilliant beginning deserved in the 21st minute after combining with John Barnes, who he seems sure to follow into the England side.
Taking his team mate's return pass, McManaman unleashed a curling, 20-yard shot that unerringly found its way to the top corner.
It was his sixth league goal of the season which has already earned him a call-up to England's senior squad for the recent friendly with Romania.
There was better to come after 36 minutes as McManaman skinned two defenders on the right touchline before ghosting past Scott Fitzgerald, who had slipped on the greasy surface.
McManaman ended his run by cutting the ball back for Fowler, who slotted home his eighth league goal with a neat shot.
The only surprise in a one-sided match was that Liverpool did not add to their goal tally until Barnes netted for the second successive Saturday just past the hour.
Fowler's shot was going well wide but, as the Wimbledon defenders waited for the ball to run out of play, Rob Jones cut it back from the byline for Barnes to score with ease.
Heavy rain made the surface treacherous as the game went on but by then Liverpool's slickness had won the game. They created a constant supply of chances with midfielder Jamie Redknapp, recalled because of injury to Jan Molby, only denied a goal on his return by the fingertips of Hans Segers.
On this occasion Wimbledon were simply no match for Liverpool as they slumped to a fourth league defeat in a row.
David James was not troubled until the 40th minute when he easily saved Marcus Gayle's shot. The Liverpool 'keeper also had no problem in saving a second half header from the same player.
Wimbledon, missing five regulars, had justifiable claims for a penalty turned down when James came sliding out of his goal to fell Peter Fear.
Liverpool manager Roy Evans said his only worry was whether the referee would abandon the game because of the appalling conditions: "There was a little spell when we were 3-0 up when the ball was starting to stick and I was a bit worried," said Evans.
He added: "It is at the referee's discretion and I think he was right in the end to keep it going."
"I suppose Joe Kinnear (Wimbledon manager) would see it differently, but I thought it affected us more than them."
"The weather was killing the game but fortunately we had got the goals before it got too bad."
Kinnear, who saw his side slide to their first defeat against Liverpool in 10 matches, bemoaned the absence of several of his top players.
"It is hard to come here most of the time, but when you have got 10 players missing it's even harder," said Kinnear.
"But Liverpool played exceptionally well. I thought we did reasonably well in the second half, but we were overrun in the first."
"When you ask kids to do a man's job, sometimes it goes against you."
YOUNG ONES FIRE NEW KOP ERA
from "The International Express"
You couldn't argue with Joe Kinnear when he said that Wimbledon were threadbare, stripped even of Vinnie Jones' superannuated machismo.
But it wasn't really the point. Wimbledon built up their run of nine unbeaten games against a Liverpool side who had lost touch with themselves.
This wasn't such a Liverpool. This was a Liverpool whose fans sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" as the black Mersey sky poured a gallon of water down their necks, who made Gene Kelly's "Singing In The Rain" seem like the weather report. Signs of the old life of Anfield have been stirring from the season's start. This was an interim celebration : light-hearted and alive with heroes.
The feel-good factor was all the more significant because these heroes were so young.
John Barnes scored his first Anfield goal for 10 months, John Scales was in imperious form as he stiffened Roy Evans' three centre-back defence to the point where he, Neil Ruddock and Phil Babb achieved their first clean sheet.
And Ian Rush was Ian Rush, as passionate about the Liverpudlian cause as when he first walked into Anfield all those years ago. But they were all essentially bit players as makeshift Wimbledon fought to keep their noses above the rising water.
Orchestrating the show most profoundly were Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and, inevitably, Robbie Fowler.
Evans' success or failure was always going to depend on how he affected young players of promise who had been obliged to watch a collection of highly paid and ageing players squander the Shankly tradition.
We can see his effect now. It is inspirational.
McManaman's ability to beat defenders, to provide the sharpest of cutting edges, has rarely been so evident.
His goal was a masterpiece of opportunism reinforced by high, natural skill. His shot from 20 yards flew beyond the bewildered Hans Segers.
When he made Fowler's goal, scored with an assurance which gave credence to those who say that he is a near certainty to be Shearer's partner in the European Championships. Wimbledon seemed on the point of surrender.
Their defender Scott Fitzgerald slipped onto his back after watching the beautifully balanced McManaman race by two of his team-mates with bewitching ease.
But the revelation was Redknapp. Recently dropped, and sore about it, he played with a bite and an acumen which might just finally condemn the skilled but under-achieving Jan Molby to the Anfield shadows.
It certainly wasn't a day for a daydream, nor for singing in the rain. Liverpool's football simply made it so.
MCMANAMAN MAGIC LIFTS CURSE OF THE DONS
from "The UK Mail"
The boot was on the other foot as Wimbledon were terrorised by Liverpool - and the Dons thanked their lucky stars that they escaped from Anfield with a 3-0 defeat.
It could have been worse, much worse, but in the end the floods that helped Liverpool to their third goal kept them treading water.
There was no sign of the old Crazy gang. No Sanchez, no Wise, no Fashanu, all gone to serve other causes. No Vinnie Jones, among the more experienced survivors marked absent, hurt. John Scales, never really considered a fully paid-up member, was on the other side following his recent 3 million pound transfer.
No wonder manager Joe Kinnear summed up: "When you ask kids to do a man's job, sometimes it goes against you."
Liverpool manager Roy Evans insisted beforehand there was no complex in his ranks about Wimbledon but admitted they might be entitled to think they have "the evil eye on us".
There was, of course, the little matter of the shock 1988 FA Cup Final defeat and a run of nine unsuccessful tilts at this most awkward customer stretching back more than four years.
This time, however, the frighteners all wore red. Steve McManaman was virtually unstoppable, strengthening his claim for promotion to the England team against Nigeria next month following his late call-up for the recent match against Romania. Wimbledon striker Efan Ekoku, who hopes to be involved with Nigeria, joined the fan club.
"Steve's scored some great goals. He runs at defenders, takes them on and when he gets to the edge of the box, he is not afraid to have a shot with either foot," said Ekoku.
McManaman struck a superb opener after 20 minutes, set up Robbie Fowler 15 minutes later and then Liverpool got lucky in the 63rd minute. A Fowler shot went wide of the far post and the ball stopped in the surface water. The alert Rob Jones ran in and delivered to John Barnes, who knocked in his first Anfield goal for 10 months.