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LIVERPOOL 4-0 SHEFFIELD UNITED
BBC 26 February 2007
Liverpool followed up their Champions League victory against Barcelona with a comfortable win over Sheffield United.
Two first-half penalties from Robbie Fowler put Liverpool in total control.
 
Steven Gerrard won both penalties after he was fouled first by Rob Kozluk and then by Nick Montgomery, with Fowler finishing each time with precision.
 
After the break Sami Hyypia's low shot made it 3-0, before Gerrard added the fourth with a superb individual goal after he was set up by a Fowler pass.
 
The win moved Liverpool four points clear of fourth-placed Arsenal, while defeat for United leaves them with some work to do as regards securing their Premiership place for next season.
 
Liverpool's starting line-up showed seven changes from the team that had won in the Nou Camp, with Javier Mascherano making his debut and Jerzy Dudek playing for the first time in the league this season.
 
Having spent much of his time on the sidelines at West Ham, Mascherano played well, allowing Gerrard plenty of freedom to move forward.
 
The Argentine midfielder had a hand in Gerrard's goal, picking out Fowler with a incisive pass in the build-up.
 
As for Dudek, having conceded nine goals in his previous two games, he had the satisfaction of keeping a clean sheet.
 
United did not create a serious chance until the closing stages when Rob Hulse rattled the bar with a close-range shot.
 
Fowler must wish he could play United every weekend.
 
On the opening day of the season a disputed penalty had salvaged Liverpool a point against United, with Fowler successfully converting the spot-kick.
 
Prior to Saturday's game that had been the only Premiership goal Fowler has scored this season, but thanks to United's overly close attentions to Gerrard, the Liverpool striker found himself on the cusp of a hat-trick by the 25th minute.
 
Kozluk fouled Gerrard for the first penalty, stopping the Liverpool captain from making a run for a corner.
 
Montgomery then hauled Gerrard down as the Liverpool midfileder threatened to unleash a shot after being released by Dirk Kuyt's clever header.
 
Fowler went to Kenny's left for the first penalty and then changed sides for the second, each time sending the ball into the corner of the net.
 
Hyypia's goal was something of a red-letter day for the Finn as it was the first time he has scored in the league this season.
 
In the opening half the Liverpool defender had set up Mark Gonzalez with a couple of raking passes and on 70 minutes he got forward for a corner to fire a left-footed shot past Paddy Kenny.
 
Gerrard's goal capped a professional Liverpool performance as their captain's deft control and raking shot saw him claim his fifth league goal of the season.
 
The only downside for Liverpool was the loss of Peter Crouch, who went off with bloodied face after the first penalty was awarded when he got a boot to the head from Hulse.
 
 
 
 
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