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Liverpool v Bradford CityREDS OUTGUN CITY

A second half onslaught by Liverpool ended in a single goal for Emile Heskey and a defeat for Bradford in their first Premiership game of the new season.

New signings Ashley Ward and Benito Carbone started the game on the bench at Anfield as Bradford tried to defend their way through the match when perhaps it would have been more effective to play Liverpool at their own game.

It was a familiar story from last season as City kicked off with just Dean Windass up front and five men in midfield in a damage limitation exercise against one of the Premiership's top five.

Surely, with the likes of Hopkin, Petrescu, Carbone and the newest addition Ashley Ward Bradford should be looking at moving forward rather than carrying on the negativity of last season's away travels.

To be fair to Bradford, and boss Chris Hutchings, they played very well in the first half and matched Liverpool in their passing style, stroking the ball around well and carving out a few chances of note. Indeed, it was David Hopkin who had the best chance to score during the half as Matt Clarke was untested in the away goal.

The ex-Leeds man, and City's record buy at £2.5 million, looked impressive as he shot at Sander Westerveld's goal in the 10th minute only for the Liverpool keeper to save comfortably. He followed this up with an effort which should have gone in as he latched on to Lee Sharpe's through ball and shot at goal. The big Dutch keeper saved well however and the chance was gone.

In a game when defending deep there are never going to be many chances for the attacking force and it was obvious that City would rue this miss.

Indeed, even though
the Bantams were very organised and held out in defence throughout the first half they had some scares as Vladimir Smicer struck a volley from just outside the area which flew past the post. Nick Barmby, the £6 million recruit from Merseyside rivals Everton, was also allowed round the back of the defence but failed to find anyone with his cross.

Barmby was knocked over in the area minutes later but referee Paul Durkin refused to award the penalty and City escaped to the dressing room as he blew for half time.

It was a lesson for Bradford and one they didn't learn as Liverpool came out all guns blazing for the second half. The visitors didn't get a look in during this period and had it not been for Matt Clarke, the outstanding man of the match, there is no doubt that Heskey would not have been the only name on the score sheet.

Heskey GoalIt was ironic that Heskey should be the scorer as he was pedestrian to say the least. It has taken the player a while to even think about gelling with his new team, let alone actually achieve it. However, it was an outstanding goal.

The big England forward picked up the ball and ran past Bradford's defence in the 67th minute before smashing the ball into the top corner of the net once he ventured into the area. A moment of brilliance that is sadly lacking in his current game.

Prior to this Bradford had escaped a glut of Liverpool chances and impressive possession football. A fantastic save by Clarke from Steven Gerrard as he tried to curl his shot to the top corner in the 50th minute was the peak of the play but Smicer also went close again on two occasions as Clarke was allowed to stop his efforts on goal.

A very quiet Michael Owen, shepherded well by Andy O'Brien, could only muster a shot on goal smothered by the City keeper as the Reds fired blank after blank. But this was before the Heskey strike and as this occurred it was time for Hutchings to act.

If not a little too late, on came Carbone and Ward for Hopkin and Petrescu but it proved ineffective. City could not retain possession and Liverpool carried on their second half dominance as Gerrard had another effort stopped by Clarke.

It was more a case of playing out time with a bit of keep ball for Gerrard Houllier's band of foreign imports at this point but, that said, they did have little to show for their attacking presence, save for the three points, and they will have to improve up front if they are to beat the likes of Manchester United to the title.

For City, the plus points were that they prevented Liverpool from scoring more goals but it must be worrying that Clarke was tested on so many occasions during the second half.

The first period's performance was impressive and if they can carry that on into the first home game next week then things could be different this season.

© WW/dw 2000

FA Premiership 00/01

Heskey 67


Att: 44.183

Other Results...

Bradford City
Matt Clarke
Peter Atherton
Ian Nolan
Andy O'Brien
David Wetherall Yellow Card
Dan Petrescu

Stuart McCall (c)
Gareth Whalley
David Hopkin

Lee Sharpe
Dean Windass

Gary Walsh
Andy Myers
Peter Beagrie
Benito Carbone 75'
Ashley Ward 75'

Sander Westerveld
Markus Babbel
Stephane Henchoz
Sami Hyypia (c)
Djimi Traore
Yellow Card
Vladimir Smicer
Steven Gerrard

Dietmar Hamann
Nick Barmby
Emile Heskey
Michael Owen

Pegguy Arphexad
Jamie Carragher 76'
Danny Murphy
Patrik Berger 82'
Gary McAllister 68'

Referee: P Durkin

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Worthington Cup

FA Cup

Leading Scorer


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