Football: Liverpool on the up

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The Independent Online
Liverpool. . . . .2

West Ham United. .0

THE red renaissance continues at Anfield, Liverpool's seventh game without defeat lifting Graeme Souness's increasingly cohesive blend of old heads and bold youngsters to fifth in the Premiership. Yesterday's victory, eventually secured by Nigel Clough and Dominic Matteo, was overshadowed by a knee injury to Rob Jones which will prevent the England right- back from facing San Marino on 17 November.

'His knee locked,' Souness said of the 17th-minute incident when Jones landed awkwardly and left the field on a stretcher. 'It's a cartilage injury and he could be out for three to six weeks.' Jones, who has experienced little luck with injury since joining Liverpool, will be operated on today.

Souness's side took the disruption in their stride, Jamie Redknapp coming on and Steve Nicol dropping back. Nicol's defensive excellence was much required as the quick-passing visitors appeared intent on forcing their first success at Anfield in 30 years.

With Ian Bishop providing accurate passes, West Ham consistently threatened to score, only to come up against Bruce Grobbelaar at his most unbeatable. Matt Holmes, released by Bishop, brought an athletic save from Grobbelaar, who then showed his flip side. First the Liverpool goalkeeper passed to Trevor Morley, who failed to curl the ball into an untenanted net from 40 yards; Grobbelaar made it easier for Morley the second time, kicking the ball straight at the striker, but the rebound went wide.

'West Ham had most of the ball early on,' Souness said, 'but I thought we dominated the second half.' This superiority was not confirmed until the 67th minute when a purposeful Liverpool move down the left presented Clough, a splendid operator in midfield, with two opportunities; his first rebounded back but his second, left- footed from the edge of the area, deservedly earned him his sixth goal of the season.

Matteo, who had set up Clough's strike, recorded his first for the club in bizarre fashion eight minutes from time. He shot straight at Ludek Miklosko, who parried the ball back at Matteo and into the net.