Fulham . . . .0
(Liverpool win 8-1 on aggregate)
ROBBIE FOWLER, England's top scorer in their European Youth Championship success last summer, continued his campaign to give Toxteth teenagers a good name by indulging in a five-goal spree as Liverpool moved comfortably into the third round of the Coca-Cola Cup last night.
The slightly built 18-year-old became only the fourth player in Liverpool's 101-year history to collect a nap hand. A further measure of his achievement was that Ian Rush, with whom he shares the record as well as a precious predatory instinct, was anonymous by comparison.
Fowler's goals got better as the game progressed. His first three came from close range with the left foot, followed by a diving header and a right-footed drive. And he would have had the landmark to himself if Fulham's goalkeeper, Jim Stannard, had not arched to tip over his consummate chip late on.
Graeme Souness, relieved to see a goal of any description, said: 'It'd be easy to go overboard about Robbie, and I don't want to do that yet. But he's clearly going to be very special.
'Anyone who has seen our reserves in the past two years would know that he threatens to score whenever he plays. He's like Rushie, always there or thereabouts in the box. Now everyone's going to know his name. It's up to him to come to terms with that, and our job to help him cope.'
Asked whether he planned to protect his prodigy from publicity in the manner of Alex Ferguson with Ryan Giggs, Souness smiled and revealed that Fowler was 'too shy' to take up an invitation to meet the media.
Fowler, who had scored on his debut in the first leg, netted twice during the first half. In the 13th minute, he pounced after Stannard parried a 30-yard Rob Jones drive, and the second followed seven minutes later after a crafty free-kick by Neil Ruddock.
Two minutes after half-time, a move which started with Bruce Grobbelaar ended with Fowler side-footing home Jones's cross for his hat-trick.
Nine minutes later, he showed his aerial ability to convert a Julian Dicks centre. With 20 minutes remaining he raced through and drew Stannard before scoring from 12 yards. Ironically, in a Liverpool line-up assembled for pounds 16m, he was the only player who did not cost a penny.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Grobbelaar; Jones, Wright, Ruddock, Dicks; Redknapp, Stewart, Clough, Hutchison; Rush, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Whelan, McManaman, James (gk).
Fulham (4-4-2): Stannard; Morgan, Angus, Thomas, Pike; Onwere, Kelly (Jupp, 69), Eckhardt, Ferney; Farrell, Brazil. Substitutes not used: Baah, Harrison (gk).
Referee: A Dawson (Jarrow).
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