Carragher's confidence booster
Liverpool 3 Carragher 50, Collymore 58, Fowler 63 Aston Villa 0 Attendance: 40,489
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 19 January 1997
The unconvincing Premiership leaders' recent problems of disappointing home form and a shortage of goals were looming large again, when Carragher, a member of last season's FA Youth Cup-winning side who had been drafted into the first-team starting line-up for the first time, met Stig Inge Bjornebye's corner with a neat header past Mark Bosnich's left hand.
Until that 50th-minute breakthrough Liverpool had been, despite long periods when they dominated possession, the less incisive side. Afterwards, they were carried along by a veritable deluge of goals that made a mockery of their recent drought and recalled instead their three in eight minutes at the start of the equivalent fixture last season.
Within eight minutes of Carragher's opener, Bjornebye was again the provider for a decisive header, this time from the previously subdued Stan Collymore. The build-up had hinted at the old Liverpool confidence and quality, with Steve McManaman ushering the ball out to the left flank for Bjornebye to complete a sweeping move.
Jamie Redknapp, back in the side for the first time in a month, was largely responsible for the third five minutes later. His shot proved too powerful for Bosnich to hold and Robbie Fowler nipped in to complete the job.
There was no way back for Villa after that, but they had grounds for feeling that they had wasted their own opportunities to take control of this game. A weakened Liverpool team that included a second newcomer in the Norwegian Bjorn Tore Kvarme, who had been signed from Rosenborg with 10 minutes to spare on Friday afternoon, looked vulnerable in the first half. Even Carragher's first involvement was inauspicious, as he was booked for a foul on the Villa captain, Andy Townsend, within 30 seconds of the start.
Tommy Johnson and Savo Milosevic both had efforts saved and Dwight Yorke went agonisingly close to scoring twice within two minutes, first squandering an opportunity he had created himself in a delightful one-two with Riccardo Scimeca by shooting into the side netting, then having an instinctive flick saved, equally instinctively, by David James. Another good opening was wasted early in the second half by Sasa Curcic's poor cross into an exposed Liverpool penalty area, while the home side, by contrast, had been largely limited to long-range shooting from Redknapp and Jason McAteer.
But salvation can sometimes come from where you least expect it and, once Carragher had found himself unmarked six yards out, Liverpool's mini- crisis was over. Their manager, Roy Evans, said: "It was smashing for Jamie. I was pleased overall with his performance. He was very steady, but to score as well... he'll be delighted."
Hardly more delighted than his manager, you would wager, because three goals against good Premiership opposition could be just the boost in confidence that Liverpool need as the title race hots up.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer talk: Juan Cuadrado Chelsea move imminent; Manchester United eye Nathaniel Clyne; Andre Schurrle medical at Wolfsburg
Danny Ings to Liverpool: The Reds attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
Kim Sears 'swearing' outburst threatens to overshadow Andy Murray's Australian Open semi-final win
Kim Sears: Andy Murray defends fiancée's for outburst after a bad-tempered march to final
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...