FOOTBALL: FOWLER SUND DAY SPECIAL; Robbie Fire Lights Up Roker Smoker

By Tanner, Richard | The Mirror (London, England), April 14, 1997 | Go to article overview

FOOTBALL: FOWLER SUND DAY SPECIAL; Robbie Fire Lights Up Roker Smoker


Tanner, Richard, The Mirror (London, England)


Sunderland 1

Liverpool 2

Robbie Fowler lifted Liverpool out of Euro depression yesterday - and put their title destiny back in their own hands.

Fowler became the first top-flight player to clock up 30 goals this season, then made one for his close pal Steve McManaman as Sunderland plunged closer to the relegation trap door.

It was a vital victory for Roy Evans and his team. And it means that if they win their remaining five games - including Saturday's blockbuster against Manchester United - they should be champions.

But goal difference may have to come into it after Paul Stewart gave his old Anfield mates a fraught last half-hour by pulling one back for Sunderland.

Lee Howey fluffed a great chance to equalise after Niall Quinn, who had come on to inspire an aerial bombardment, headed down Chris Waddle's free-kick. But Liverpool held on to wipe out the pain of that shock home defeat by Coventry and Cup Winners' Cup flop in Paris.

And no one was happier than David James, whose high-profile blunders had so undermined hopes of silverware at home and abroad.

The giant goalkeeper was so well protected - and Sunderland so shot shy - that he didn't have a save to make. Neither could James be faulted for Sunderland's goal. He stayed on his line for Waddle's corner and was helpless to stop Stewart's powerful header.

With Stan Collymore ruled out by a hamstring injury, Evans pushed McManaman up front and brought Michael Thomas into midfield.

The plan worked a treat in a one-sided first half and it was no surprise when Liverpool took the lead after 32 minutes.

Fowler, in yards of space, stooped to head home after Mark Wright, at the back post, had set up the chance from Stig Bjornbye. It's the third season running that the prolific young Anfield striker has topped the 30 mark - and now he looks set to claim the Premiership Golden Boot prize for the first time.

It should have been 2-0 seconds later when Fowler sent McManaman through but Sunderland keeper Lionel Perez was equal to the England man's left- foot shot. …

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