Ian Rush's hat-trick was just enough to enable Liverpool to dump Ipswich out of the Coca-Cola Cup at Anfield.
The ace goalmouth predator punished two dreadful defensive blunders by the East Anglians before providing the perfect finish to a fine cross by his new young strike partner Robbie Fowler.
Fowler had also played a crucial part in Rush's first goal, scored after 48 seconds. Ipswich 'keeper Craig Forrest seemed to have covered the youngster's low cross but somehow let it squirm from his grasp and Rush pounced instantly to shoot home.
In the 16th minute Ipswich defender David Linighan was caught in possession by Rush just outside his own area. This time the Welshman advanced on Forrest and beat him with cool precision.
But six minutes later Ipswich were back in the game thanks to a bizarre goal. Liverpool defender Neil Ruddock overhit his back pass forcing Bruce Grobbelaar into a desperate hurried clearance that slammed into striker Ian Marshall and rebounded straight into the net.
The goal provoked taunts from the small group of travelling Ipswich fans behind Grobbelaar's goal, who sang "nice one Brucie" and "there's only one Tim Flowers" - but most neutrals felt the fault lay more with Ruddock than the 'keeper.
Rush completed his hat-trick after 64 minutes. Paul Stewart's astute through-ball gave Fowler the chance to cut deep into the area and swing in a low cross for Rush to stab home from close range.
Liverpool were apparently coasting after that but with 13 minutes left Wrexham referee John Lloyd threw the visitors a lifeline when he harshly judged that Mark Wright had handled Stuart Slater's cross. Paul Mason converted the penalty kick with power and confidence.
Fowler had just failed to divert Steve Nicol's low shot home after 25 minutes and Forrest dived to touch a Stewart effort wide two minutes later.
The busy Ipswich 'keeper then did well to save two ferociously strick shots in the space of a minute from Julian Dicks.
Ipswich manager Mick McGivern hailed Rush as "an Anfield legend. His participation was marvellous," McGivern said. "We were a little bit indecisive with the first two goals but you have to pay credit to Ian Rush. He put our defenders under pressure and took his goals very well. The third one was a very good goal."
"He will go down as a legend at Anfield and rightly so. He was magnificent."
Liverpool boss Graeme Souness agreed: "You saw what Rushie is about. If you make a mistake anywhere around your area he will punish you and that's what he did tonight. I thought we played well. We knocked it around, created chances and scored three so I've got to be happy with that."
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