Football: Bjornebye brings joy to Liverpool

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The Independent Online
MyPa-47 0 Liverpool 1

Stig Inge Bjornebye, making his debut in a European competition for Liverpool, earned the Merseysiders a valuable victory in last night's European Cup-Winners' Cup first round, first leg match in Anjalankoski, Finland. His lone goal was enough to defeat a team who have yet to win on home turf in any European competition.

Liverpool began brightly with Robbie Fowler turning quickly to send a snap shot agonisingly wide. Bjornebye then picked out Steve McManaman, whose finishing was also profligate.

There was a moment of danger for Liverpool when Mika Hernesniemi punted a long ball forward, forcing David James to raced off the goal line to clear as Mauri Keskitalo waited menacingly for the goalkeeper to err.

Fowler broke free from his marker, the former Aston Villa defender David Moore, only to slice his shot past the post.

The Finnish side caused anxiety in the Liverpool defence when a back pass from John Barnes compromised Phil Babb. Sami Mahlio was allowed to run on as Liverpool backpedalled, but he squandered the chance.

In common with British clubs' endeavours in Europe the previous night, Liverpool struggled to assert themselves. When Keskitalo released Hernesniemi on the right, the Liverpool defence failed to pick up his cross. Fortunately for the beaten FA Cup finalists, it found no target.

Jason McAteer responded with a firm drive from the cusp of the area and Stan Collymore carved out another opening minutes later when he attempted to put Fowler clear. The alert Moore intercepted, however.

When the MyPa goalkeeper, Petri Jakonen, dropped a corner from Bjornebye, Babb's shot was cleared off the line by Mika Viljanen. Jakonen then made a fine save as Collymore flicked the ball on from another accurate Bjornebye cross.

After the break, Liverpool began to step up the pace, Collymore shooting wide after Barnes and Michael Thomas had combined.

Bjornebye made the breakthrough after 61 minutes when McAteer's cross was only half-cleared. Bjornebye rifled the ball home from just inside the penalty area. It was only his second goal for Liverpool, his first coming against Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season.

The Liverpool manager, Roy Evans, praised the defender's contribution. "It was fitting he should score. He was one of our best players along with Dominic Matteo and John Barnes. It was a good strike but we had to be patient; our opponents worked very hard."

MyPa-47: Jakonen; Viljanen, Moore, Mahlio, Pohja, Keskitalo (Enberg, 68), Gronholm (Kangaskorpi, 79), Jukka Koskinen, Hernesniemi, Huttunen, Allen (Jalonen, 73). Substitutes not used: Jarkko Koskinen, Lehtonen.

Liverpool: James; McAteer, Wright, Babb, McManaman, Collymore, Fowler, Barnes, Thomas, Bjornebye, Matteo. Substitutes not used: Warner, Redknapp, Ruddock, Berger, L Jones.

Referee: G Orrasson (Iceland).

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