Rush hits 200th goal

Ian Rush's 200th league goal for Liverpool and a highly debatable penalty, stroked home by Jan Molby, had Leeds suffering their latest bout of travel sickness as they went down at Anfield.

Without a win at Liverpool in 21 years and an away victory of any kind in the League since May last year, Howard Wilkinson's team crashed to a pair of first-half, comic book goals. They were every bit as unsatisfactory as the two which floored them at Highbury in midweek.

Rush, who had already forced goalkeeper John Lukic into a fine save, sparked Leeds' third defeat in a row with a mis-hit half-volley from Don Hutchison's pass. It totally bemused Lukic, who was expecting a much firmer 24th minute effort.

Five minutes before the interval, the Leeds goalkeeper came charging to the edge of his box to make a feet-first challenge that seemed to take the ball before flattering Rob Jones. But referee Robbie Hart pointed immediately to the penalty spot.

It was debatable whether contact took place inside the box and Lukic, called into action as Jones sprinted in pursuit of Molby's perceptive pass, seemed convinced his challenge was legal. So did the Leeds fans who chanted "cheat,cheat," but could not distract Molby, who calmly tucked away the penalty.

Leeds had started brightly with Gary McAllister testing goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar after a mistake by Jones, and Mark Wright doing well to hack away Rod Wallace's cross. But Liverpool gradually imposed themselves, even though missing the midfield class of Steve Nicol, and both Rush and Hutchison went close before the Welshman wrapped up his milestone goal.

Leeds, beaten by a first minute own goal and a hotly disputed second at Arsenal on Tuesday, must have known it was not their day again when the penalty was given.

But their fans, who inevitably treated referee Hart to an outburst of booing when he emerged for the second half, eventually seemed to turn their anger towards manager Howard Wilkinson.

In an effort to pep up an attack, which kept plugging away in the second half, Wilkinson took off Rod Wallace in favour of youngster Noel Whelan. The Leeds fans chanted "what the hell is going on?" and followed that up with cries of "Rocky, Rocky" in support of their 2 million pound signing David Rocastle, who once again sat helpless in the stands, not even in the squad.

Just to crown matters, Leeds' Whelan was booked three minutes from time after a late tackle that left Rob Jones flat on his face for the second time.

Rush later admitted he scored his 200th League goal for Liverpool with his nose.

Rush explained: "The ball came over, hit me on the shoulder and then on the nose. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, the ball was in the net. But it's no surprise - I've scored a good few goals with my nose."

Liverpool manager Graeme Souness admitted: "It wasn't exactly the most clinical finish, but he's always there to score and he's always positive. I've said before, maybe too many times, that I rate him the best goalscorer I have ever seen in my time in football. And today he was probably our best defender as well."

Of the penalty Jones said: "There was definitely contact and it was inside the area. The goalkeeper didn't get to the ball at all."

Wilkinson didn't know whether any offence took place inside or outside the box, but was upset that once more his team had nothing to show for a mountain of possession in the game.

He said: "We do one thing abysmally and that is when the ball is within reach of our cage, we let goals in. We played with commitment and control, and in the manner which people say the game should be played. But other people tend to defend better when they are winning."

Wilkinson added: "We all know the supporters are entitled to their view and I'll have a lot of letters this week. What can I do - play 4-4-4 with Rocastle at centre-half? I can't drop Gary McAllister can I? He's done nothing wrong. But we've either got to get things right or get someone else to do it. I'm not saying if I'm in the mood to make changes. It is the wrong time, just after a match, to have the right judgement on that."

Copyright - British Soccer Week

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