Football: Littlejohn's big moment

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The Independent Online
Sheffield United. . . . 1

Liverpool. . . . . . . .0

LIVERPOOL lost their mantle of invincibility some time ago. More performances like this and they will drain the reservoir of respect created in better times.

By the end, they were reduced to hacking Sheffield United players to the floor, with David Burrows receiving a long overdue booking.

Graeme Souness, the Liverpool manager, has his problems - not least the injuries to Barnes, McManaman, Thomas and Jones - but he was still able to deploy a team worth pounds 11m.

United's XI cost barely a tenth of that figure, and it was their free-transfer signing from Walsall, Adrian Littlejohn, who looked the liveliest player on the field and scored the decisive goal.

After a run of three 2-0 defeats, the Blades manager Dave Bassett had tried this week to entice the unsettled Notts County striker, Tony Agana, back to Bramall Lane on loan to see if his once fruitful partnership with Brian Deane could be re-established. Agana rejected the deal and Bassett turned instead to the 21- year-old Littlejohn, who has made a fitful contribution since he arrived last year.

It took only five minutes for him to justify his recall. Controlling a Deane flick-on just outside the box, he spotted David James off his line and calmly curled the ball into the far corner to score his first goal for United.

'It should do him a world of good,' Bassett said, 'he's caused them constant problems all afternoon.'

Mark Wright, who was criticised by Graham Taylor for 'not closing up tight' in midweek against Spain, had difficulty keeping track of either Littlejohn or Deane. His partner, Burrows made more of an impression but of entirely the wrong kind.

Sheffield United: S Tracey; K Gage, T Cowan, J Gannon (A Cork, 87 min), B Gayle, P Beesley, C Bradshaw, P Rogers, A Littlejohn, B Deane, D Whitehouse (I Bryson, 73 min) Sub not used: A Kelly (gk). Manager: D Bassett.

Liverpool: D James; S Harkness, D Burrows, S Nicol, R Whelan (J Molby, 58 min), M Wright, R Rosenthal, P Stewart, I Rush, J Redknapp (M Marsh, 77 min), M Walters. Sub not used: B Grobbelaar (gk). Manager: G Souness.

Referee: J Martin (Alton).

Goal: Littlejohn (1-0, 5 min).