Football: Hunt's record falls to hungry Rush

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The Independent Online
Liverpool. . . . . . . . .6

Apollon Limassol. . . . . 1

IAN RUSH last night became Liverpool's all-time leading scorer in Continental competition, helping himself to four goals as the Cypriots of Apollon Limassol were routed in this Cup-Winners'- Cup first round, first leg match.

Only 12,769 spectators, Liverpool's second lowest attendance in 73 European home fixtures, were scattered around the stadium to see Rush overtake Roger Hunt's total of 17 with his hat-trick goal, and move to within one of the same player's record of 285 in all senior matches with his fourth.

Rush has yet to score in the Premier League, although he managed three goals for Wales against the Faroe Isles eight days ago to equal his country's scoring record of 23 goals. By coincidence, Liverpool also enjoyed a 6-1 win on their return to Europe exactly a year ago, when Dean Saunders also scored four against Finnish opposition.

Paul Stewart, pressed into reluctant service as Rush's partner after the sale of Saunders, scored the first two goals. Any Apollon hopes of a dignified defeat disappeared when Marios Charalambous was sent off two minutes before half- time, and an 83rd-minute penalty by Serbia's Milenko Spoliaric was scant consolation.

Liverpool had the perfect start, with a fourth minute goal. Stewart made the breakthrough, dispossessing Apollon's former Partick Thistle and Celtic player, David Kenny, before advancing to score with a strong drive from 18 yards.

Stewart headed his second in the 38th minute, and two minutes later Rush turned sharply onto a Mike Marsh pass to hit his first goal for Liverpool in 580 minutes' action this season. Charalambous then brought down Stewart, his second bookable offence, and the contest became embarrassingly one-sided.

Rush made it 4-0 in the 50th minute, deftly turning in a low, driven cross by Mark Walters, and four minutes later earned his place in history by stooping to head home after Michalis Christophi had parried a Walters shot. The Apollon keeper obligingly spilled a Jamie Redknapp drive and Rush, inevitably, was there to prod in the loose ball.

Six up with 16 minutes left, Liverpool understandably eased up and Marsh conceded the spot-kick from which Spoliaric gave the 400 Cypriot fans something to cheer. Afterwards, Graeme Souness preferred to concentrate on Rush's performance. 'Ian deserves the record,' the Liverpool manager said. 'He's the best goal getter I've seen - and there's a lot of life left in him yet.'

Souness, however, will not be deceived into thinking that Liverpool's early season problems are over. Fifteenth place in the League would have been unthinkable in Hunt's day, and on Saturday they are at Aston Villa where the wisdom of offloading Saunders will come under scrutiny.

Liverpool: James; Harkness (Charnock, 55), Burrows, Nicol, Redknapp, Wright, Marsh, Stewart (Rosenthal, 85), Rush, Molby, Walters.

Apollon Limassol: M Christophi; Andrellis, Pittas, Ioannou, Kenny, Yiangoudakis, G Iosifides, Spoliaric, Djouras, C Christophi (Sofocleous, 59), Charalambous.

Referee: J-A Veiga Trigo (Por).

Torben Piechnik, a central defender who played for Denmark in their European Championship final victory over Germany in June, is expected to sign for Liverpool from FC Copenhagen today for pounds 500,000. Piechnik, 29, was at Anfield last night.

TORBEN PIECHNIK, a central defender who played for Denmark in their European Championship final victory over Germany in June, is expected to sign for Liverpool today for pounds 500,000. Piechnik, 29, was withdrawn from FC Copenhagen's UEFA Cup tie and was at Anfield last night.