Football: Camara goal sets Liverpool buzzing

Liverpool 3 Bradford City 1 - Early Windass strike for Bradford stuns Anfield but Heggem solo effort seals three points for Houllier's men after stirring recovery
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The Independent Online
PAUL JEWELL did not make it as a Liverpool player and the likelihood is that his team are not going to make it in the Premiership either. The Bradford City manager returned to the club where he was once an apprentice last night, and his journey down Memory Lane ended in an unhappy but familiar cul-de-sac.

This match makes it seven defeats in 12 league matches since Bradford were promoted and, as they are already in the bottom three, the omens are not looking promising. They work hard and the word "surrender" is not in their vocabulary, but it is going to take something extraordinary if they are going to survive at this level.

Last night they took the lead through Dean Windass but, so porous are they, one goal never looked likely to be adequate against a Liverpool side who are not totally unfamiliar with yielding defending themselves. There was little wrong with the home attack, however, even without Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, and they comfortably achieved their third win in five unbeaten league matches thanks to goals from Titi Camara and Vegard Heggem and a penalty from Jamie Redknapp.

"I was not happy at the start," Gerard Houllier, the Liverpool manager, said. "The football was good but to me it was too soft, gentle and nice and at top level you have to be a bit more competitive. All credit to the players for moving up a level when Bradford scored."

One of Houllier's greatest irritants this season is that he has not been able to field his strongest side. Owen and Fowler were missing last night but at least Dietmar Hamann, around whom he hopes to build his new Liverpool, played his fourth game of the season.

The German's presence allowed Redknapp a freer rein that ultimately proved decisive, but not before Bradford had shocked the home team after 12 minutes. Stuart McCall launched a pass from deep and, after his dummy had created space for Lee Mills, Windass turned for the lay-off and curled his shot past Sander Westerveld with the outside of his right foot.

Anfield was stunned and it was in an almost eerie silence from the Liverpool supporters that Bradford almost went 2-0 up. Dean Saunders, his usual bundle of energy, contrived space on the left and as his cross came over the home centre-backs stood still in admiration. In nipped Neil Redfearn, but from point-blank range he headed over.

This Bradford superiority could not last and once Liverpool had shaken themselves out of their alarm-induced stupor they equalised after 20 minutes. Steve Staunton passed from the left, Camara lost Andrew O'Brien with a lovely spin and then slipped his shot into the corner of the net.

Like Bradford, Liverpool also squandered a ripe chance when Camara's dummy let in Vladimir Smicer only for him to pull his shot wide, but in their case they had to wait only seconds to make amends. Patrik Berger jinked into the area in the 41st minute and, when David Wetherall tripped him, Redknapp thumped the penalty high to Matthew Clarke's left.

The second half did not live up to the first although the latter period did include the goal of the game, Heggem zig-zagging his way past two Bradford players in the 81st minute before stretching to poke the ball past Clarke.

It made it a good night for Liverpool, who rise to sixth, and they also had some pleasing news for England. Owen did not appear but the striker revealed he was being rested and is likely to be fit for the European 2000 play-offs. "I was 50-50 to play," Owen said, "but the manager decided to get the hamstring right by giving it another week. We have located the problem around the pelvis area and the hamstrings are doing some of the work the pelvis should be doing. There's no danger of missing Hampden Park."

Liverpool (4-4-2): Westerveld; Song, Henchoz, Hyypia, Staunton; Thompson (Heggem, 77), Redknapp (Carragher, 72), Hamann, Berger; Smicer (Meijer, 80), Camara. Substitutes not used: Murphy, Nielsen (gk).

Bradford City (4-3-3): Clarke; Halle (Lawrence, 67), Wetherall, O'Brien, Sharpe; Redfearn (Rankin, 77), McCall, Windass; Saunders, Mills, Blake. Substitutes not used: Myers, Dreyer, Prudhoe (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).