MANCHESTER: Liverpool put their recent poor league form behind them to beat Premiership rivals Manchester City 1-0 in the third round of the FA Cup here at Maine Road yesterday.
England midfielder Danny Murphy’s penalty two minutes into the second half helped Liverpool temporarily forget a run of 10 league games without a victory.
Fulham never looked in trouble in their tie at Loftus Road.
Argentine striker Facundo Sava put them ahead after 11 minutes, Danish midfielder Bjarne Goldbaek drilled home the second and French striker Louis Saha celebrated his return from a four-month injury break with the third just after the re-start.
Stern John scored Birmingham’s consolation goal in the final minute.
In the third Cup tie yesterday, First Division Wolverhampton Wanderers squandered a 2-0 lead but still came back for a thrilling 3-2 victory over Newcastle United.
Former England midfielder Paul Ince put them ahead after six minutes and Ireland midfielder Mark Kennedy made it 2-0 before two goals just before the break from Jermaine Jenas and Alan Shearer, from the penalty spot, made it all square.
But Wolves striker George Ndah got the winner, bundling the ball home four minutes after the re-start, and his side clung on for victory after a nerve-jangling finale in which both sides had a goal disallowed.
Delighted Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, whose team are still involved in the English League Cup and UEFA Cup said: “It was a massive win for us and I am very proud of the attitude of the players.
“Our club has a tradition of success and of winning trophies. This is an important day.
“We had a plan and we didn’t give City too many chances. We showed a lot of solidity and strength.”
Former Liverpool great Kevin Keegan, a double goalscorer in the Anfield club’s 1974 FA Cup Final win against Newcastle, criticised referee Uriah Rennie’s penalty decision.
“It was a horrible way to end a cup tie, although we never got going,” Keegan admitted.
“I never talk about Uriah Rennie except to say I don’t like him as a referee – never have, never will, end of story.
“He is a law unto himself. Ask his agent if you can have an interview with Mr Rennie.”
Liverpool had two half-chances in the 25th minute.
First England midfielder Steven Gerrard’s raking crossfield ball found Mellor but his first-time header from eight yards out was never going to trouble Schemichel.
But the former United keeper made life difficult for himself when his poor clearance kick went straight to Mellor but the youngster's shot was comfortably saved.
Such was City’s lack of penetration that five minutes before half-time Keegan took off defender Lucien Mettomo and brought on Israeli midfielder Eyal Berkovic.
The playmaker’s presence yielded an instant result when his neat through ball released Anelka for City's first effort on goal just a minute before half-time.
But his shot was well blocked by Liverpool keeper Chris Kirkland, who was quickly off his line to narrow the angle.
Goalless at half-time, Liverpool’s dominance was eventually rewarded in the second minute of the second half.
They had already had one penalty appeal rejected by Rennie, after Salif Diao went down in the box, when City’s Cameroon defender Marc-Vivien Foe put raised his arms in blocking Smicer’s cross into the area.
Rennie had no hesitation in awarding a penalty for handball and, from the spot, Murphy sent Schmeichel the wrong way in the 47th minute. – Agencies