Articles

Liverpool keep up the pressure

By Ken Rogers of "Liverpool Echo"

Liverpool's relentless pressure on Manchester United continues. While the League leaders struggled at Leicester today, Kenny Dalglish's men moved to within two points of their championship rivals. 
 
The Reds, in outstanding form in recent weeks, took just nine minutes to open up the home side's defence with Rush claiming his 12th goal of the season after excellent work by Johnston. 

Rush's striking partner Walsh, simply unstoppable at the moment, added a second midway through the half, and the Liverpool fans took up the chant "We're going to win the League," when a remarkable half time scoreline from Filbert Street revealed that championship rivals United were 3-0 down. 
 
It was a cold damp afternoon as the teams kicked off and a loose back pass from Hansen gave Birmingham an early corner on the left. The ball was worked in towards the edge of the box, where former Everton skipper Wright, playing in a central midfield anchor role, hammered a shot wide. 
 
Hopkins, making his 100th league appearance on Birmingham's right flank, was fouled by McMahon and the home side had another chance to threaten. Hopkins got on the end of the free kick and once again the resulting shot was off target. 
 
Liverpool grabbed the lead following their first serious attack after nine minutes. Johnston was the creator, bursting into the right of the box, and crossing hard and low for Rush to pinch his 12th goal of the season from close range. 
 
The Welsh striker went close to increasing the lead moments later when he turned quickly before unleashing an unstoppable shot that beat Seaman and rebounded clear off the left hand post. 
 
Birmingham, in dire need of points in the wake of seven successive league defeats, were stunned by the solid Liverpool opening. The home side, already without the suspended Wayne Clarke, could have done without the booking sustained by Hopkins after 18 minutes. 
 
Liverpool remained the more decisive team and increased their lead after 26 minutes through Walsh. It was the simplest of goals, Molby's accuracy from a free kick on the left exposing the Birmingham defense and Walsh rising to turn a close range header into the net. 
 
It was his ninth goal in seven games and the Reds striker is clearly in unstoppable form at the moment. With Liverpool running the game and their opponents struggling to make an impression, the Reds continued to move forward and Seaman had to go down quickly to smother a deflected effort from Molby. 
 
McMahon's skill in the centre of the park was brining warm applause from the delighted Liverpudlians who had travelled down the M66. One sweeping ball out to the right maintained the pressure on the home side and a strong shot from Molby was blocked by a wall of defenders. 
 
Liverpool had never looked in any danger at any stage in the first half and were maintaining their excellent recent form against Midlands clubs having beaten West Brom, Coventry and Leicester in recent weeks. 
 
Half-time : Birmingham 0, Liverpool 2. 
 
A surging run from McMahon opened up the Birmingham defence in the opening minutes of the second half. The midfield man hammered a low shot towards the right hand corner of the net and it took an outstanding one-handed shot from Seaman to deny the Liverpool player. 

Liverpool were just as sharp in the defence and Hansen showed his quality when he came in quickly to dispossess Hopkins. As the play moved forward into the Birmingham half, space opened up in front of Molby and he hammered in a shot that took a deflection and Seaman did well to save to his left. 
 
A rare home break down the right by Hagan ended with a telling challenge from Lawrenson and Beglin taking over and pushing Liverpool onto the offensive once more. The pace and skill of Walsh took him past Hagan to the right of the box and his short cross almost found Rush in front of the posts but Armstrong conceded a corner. 
 
A foul by Wright on the hard-working Whelan 25 yards out opened up fresh possibilities, but Molby's free kick was deflected wide. The home fans, who had been waiting all afternoon for something to cheer, were suddenly lifted when striker Kennedy skipped past Beglin, but he was stopped in his tracks by another telling tackle from Hansen. 
 
Birmingham made a substitution, pulling off Khul and sending on substitute Rees. Grobbelaar had been a virtual spectator but he had to be alert to a curling cross from Bremner. 

A dangerous run by Johnston, took him past substitute Ress on the right, before moving into the box and trying a shot that was charged down by Seaman. 
 
Nicol who had played so well for Scotland in midweek, exposed the home side with another pacey run down the right and Walsh actually had the ball in the net only to be ruled offside. 

The McMahon-Molby combination in the centre of the park was highly impressive and the home side had found Rush and Walsh extremely hot to handle. Molby had always been prepared to try his luck and he hammered another of those powerful long range shots wide of the left hand post.
 
Copyright - Liverpool Echo

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