Berger lifts Liverpool
Friday 27 September 1996 00:02
Even in a week when British teams have been slipping up all over Europe, a defeat for Liverpool in the Cup-Winners' Cup would have been shocking. They avoided that banana skin at Anfield last night although they hardly swept MyPa aside.
Already 1-0 up from the first leg, they should have had a hatful of goals against a part-time Finnish side that included the proverbial postman. Instead they had to be content with three.
Almost inevitably, given his Midas touch at the moment, the first of those went to Patrik Berger, whose four goals in two matches and bravura performances almost certainly pushed up last night's crowd to 39,013. The other Liverpool scorers were Stan Collymore and John Barnes.
"There are no mugs in Europe,'' Roy Evans, the Liverpool manager, had said before the match and to reinforce that opinion he avoided the temptation to tinker with a team that has had five successive wins. Only Robbie Fowler was missing, the victim of a twisted ankle in training.
In theory his replacement, Collymore, should have formed the front two with Berger but such was Liverpool's dominance that figure was usually trebled. So should have the scoreline, for that matter.
After five minutes Steve McManaman fired just over, in the 11th minute, Stig Inge Bjornebye found the side netting; the Finnish defensive discipline was pummelled into submission before Berger scored to effectively put the tie beyond reach.
Berger, 25 yards out, had an opponent in front of him but he solved that problem by putting the ball between Mika Viljanen's legs and then arrogantly beating Petri Jakonen. The goal was his seventh in three and a half matches for Liverpool and the Czech Republic in 11 days.
Liverpool had to wait until the 60th minute for the next goal.Thomas found Barnes 30 yards out. He passed precisely to Collymore, who used his marker's body like a pivot to turn and then plant the ball in the far corner.
The Finns managed one act of defiance. With his first touch after coming on as a substitute, Juuso Kangaskorpi split the Liverpool rearguard with a pass that found Mauri Keskitalo. The Finnish striker, who had looked dangerous all night, confirmed that impression by easily beating David James.
The goal barely put Liverpool out of their stride and they continued to ping the ball round the Finnish penalty area. Only once more did they find the spot, however, John Barnes scoring from 10 yards in the closing minutes.
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