Football: Calamity James sees red

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. .1

Liverpool. . . 0

A TALE of two keepers - one of them impressive, the other impetuous. Bryan Gunn, the Scottish international, showed why he has been voted Norwich's player of the season with a series of sterling saves, his experience and composure in marked contrast to David James at Carrow Road yesterday.

The Liverpool No 1 was first booked for a clumsy challenge and then dismissed for kicking an opponent - an act of recklessness which David Phillips punished from the penalty spot.

'The game hinged on that incident,' Graeme Souness said of his keeper's 60th-minute abberration. 'David James is a young man and hopefully he has learnt something.' The lesson may be not to kick people - in this case, the Canaries' captain, John Polston - when you have just gathered the ball comfortably at a corner and are in command.

'It was obviously very silly,' Gunn said, 'but you do strange things in the heat of the moment.'

James, who had earlier been booked for felling Chris Sutton outside his box, gave David Elleray no option but to brandish the red card following his low-level swipe. Souness reorganised by replacing Jamie Redknapp with Mike Hooper, whose first task was to pick Phillips's firmly struck spot-kick out of the net.

Liverpool, inspired by an ebullient John Barnes, had the better of the first half, Ian Rush and Don Hutchison bringing smart stops from Gunn. But after the James calamity, Souness's side were fortunate that the deficit did not grow. Norwich, before an all- ticket crowd of 20,610, their biggest of a successful season, had chances to make a complete mockery of Liverpool's recent revival, but Mark Robins' sights were badly adjusted while Fox, Crook and Sutton failed to apply the finishing touch to crosses from the promising Efan Ekoku.

The victory keeps Norwich in sight of a Uefa Cup place, if Blackburn falter and Arsenal complete a cup double over Sheffield Wednesday. 'If we get into Europe we'll deserve to be there,' Mike Walker, the Norwich manager, said. No one who has witnessed their spritely home displays and refreshing challenge to the status quo of the elite would disagree.

Norwich City: B Gunn; I Culverhouse, M Bowen, R Newman, J Polston, J Goss (G Megson, 65 min), I Crook, C Sutton, M Robins (E Ekoku, 71 min), R Fox, D Phillips. Sub not used: M Walton (gk). Manager: M Walker.

Liverpoool: D James; R Jones, D Burrows, S Nicol, M Wright, J Redknapp (M Hooper, 61 min), P Stewart (R Rosenthal, 79 min), D Hutchison, I Rush, J Barnes, M Walters. Sub not used: T Piechnik. Manager: G Souness.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).