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Match report from The Mail on Sunday

By Patrick Collins of "The Mail on Sunday".

 

Liverpool player-manager Kenny Dalglish launched a scathing attack on his players after seeing them toss away their 14-match unbeaten run.

 

Two defensive errors in the first 25 minutes cost the Anfield men their record and prompted Dalglish to say: "I'm disappointed more with their attitude than the play. If they had applied themselves a bit more we could have had a better result today. The first goal was a direct result of our approach".

 

But Dalglish dismissed suggestions that Charlie Nicholas's effort was offside, saying : "If you don't compete, you don't deserve the referee to favour you".

 

The talking point among the Arsenal faithful, though was their new and unlikely hero, Niall Quinn. Quinn discovered just 90 minutes before the kick-off that, in the absence of the injured Tony Woodcock, he would be required to launch his 6ft 4in frame at Liverpool's formidable defence.

 

His credentials were intriguing - a background of the Gaelic sports, hurling and football, an admirable temperament and 18 reserve team goals this season. "I just had to toss him in and hope he was ready," said Arsenal manager Don Howe.

 

He needn't have worried. The young Dubliner worked and chased for 90 minutes. And on a day when Liverpool's defence wasn't nearly so formidable after all, he emerged from his debut with a goal he will carry to his grave.

 

True, there was a strong streak of charity about that 25 minute effort. Paul Davis, ambling forward, suddenly sprinted into the space at the edge of the area and his thumping 20-yard drive bounced off Bruce Grobbelaar's chest. Quinn reacted first to sweep the ball into the roof of the net.

 

It was the second bout of indecision to afflict Liverpool's defenders. In the fifth minute, a loose pass from Jan Molby and a lethargic clearance from Steve Nicol all allowed Graham Rix to shove in a foot and present Nicholas with the first goal.

 

Liverpool did pull their game together, but luck was a stranger. They saw Steve McMahon's ferocious drive swept aside by and improbable stretch from John Lukic. They saw Nicol hit the angle of the post and bar with another fine effort and, most gallingly, they saw Ian Rush squander, without conviction, the volley which might have yanked them back into the match.

Yet you could not grudge Arsenal their victory. They have endured a harsh and unrewarding season and they were overdue a touch of fortune.

 

Copyright - The Mail on Sunday

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