Football: Liverpool find life at last: Rush intervention

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Ipswich Town. . .1

Liverpool. . . . 2

FOR SO long it was like watching an end-of-year collection of television's golden gaffes. Careful construction and pleasing preamble ruined before we got to the punchline. Sometimes amusing, frequently entertaining, the show nevertheless did not appear to be leading anywhere.

Liverpool were still wearing their 1993 look, bright and mobile and full of freedom yet for an hour their best intentions were destined only to fail.

They had not won away in the League since their second outing of the season when they hit Swindon for five and it was hard not to see why. In this mood of uncertainty Mark Wright gives hope to every opponent while Bruce Grobbelaar was chancing his luck a little too close for comfort.

Then Neil Ruddock's forehead made thunderous contact with Stig Bjornebye's corner and suddenly Liverpool were inspired, Jamie Redknapp shaking the crossbar and Ian Rush aiming narrowly the wrong side of the far post.

As an attacking force Ipswich had been a disappointment for their supporters. Twice Ian Marshall had been teed up nicely for a straightforward opportunity and each time he finished with something less than total conviction. It was fitting they should equalise with a goal untidy in its origins and controversial in its execution. The substitute, Boncho Genchev, mishit his shot and as the offside flag stayed down Marshall strode away to beat Grobbelaar.

Fury and frustration were Liverpool's twin emotions in equal measure. Once again they had let another lead slip and the referee, Allan Gunn, bore the brunt of their anger. Yet Graeme Souness had one more ace up his sleeve from among his substitutes. Bjornebye had brought a powerful edge to their left-sided attacks and now John Barnes came on to win them the game. From a standing start he streaked past his marker to find space for a teasing cross which Rush finally bundled home after Robbie Fowler had headed against the woodwork.

Souness hailed Barnes as 'the difference' afterwards but concern over his recent groin injury means his involvement at Anfield on Tuesday against Manchester United is again likely to be restricted.

Then on Saturday Liverpool begin their FA Cup quest at Bristol City, back-to-back fixtures which are crucial to Souness's hopes of remaining as Liverpool manager into the next new year.

Goals: Ruddock (58) 0-1; Marshall (76) 1-1; Rush (88) 1-2.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Forrest; Youds (Yallop, 72), Linighan, Whelan, Thompson; Stockwell, Wark (Genchev, 72), Williams, Johnson; Kiwomya, Marshall. Substitute not used: Baker (gk).

Liverpool (4-4-2): Grobbelaar; Jones, Ruddock, Wright, Harkness; McManaman (Barnes, 76), Clough, Redknapp, Matteo (Bjornebye, 29); Fowler, Rush. Substitute not used: James (gk).

Referee: A Gunn (Sussex).