Football: Owen aids the recovery

Liverpool 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Berger 19, Owen 34 Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 40,003

COMPLETE recovery may take quite a while, but it's not unreasonable to assume that Liverpool's convalescence has begun. Drawing on Anfield's restorative powers and surviving a queasy first quarter-hour, Gerard Houllier's much derided side rediscovered some missing vitality yesterday and recorded their first win of December.

Having lost each of the last three games, the club reacted to apparent ill-health by surrounding themselves with supportive friends and family, creating an ideal ambience for recuperation. The supporters - rarely in decades gone by offered the chance to be anything more than "fair weather" - sang long before they were winning. The players knew they were still loved and reacted accordingly.

Even so, like any groggy patient, Liverpool were slow risers. Benito Carbone, in twinkle-toes mode, and Danny Sonner, with a rising volley, might have given them nightmares before they were brought to full cold- light-of-day consciousness by Andy Hinchcliffe's zippy free-kick.

Once awake though, Liverpool produced 20 minutes of football held up by Houllier as an example of how he wants his team to play. During that spell, the game was won.

With a suddenness that seemed to take their opponents aback, Liverpool came upliftingly to life. Their midfield metamorphosis was led by Jamie Redknapp - a man who has risen above much of the recent criticism. His passing, combined with Paul Ince's constructively harnessed desire, changed the mood and the goals followed.

First, Robbie Fowler, controlling Stig Inge Bjornebye's left wing corner, teed-up Patrik Berger. Then, just beyond the half-hour Bjornebye scampered on to Jamie Carragher's pass and cut inside before locating Michael Owen in prime predatory position to dispatch his 13th goal of the season.

Owen's lifting of the pace was the constant catalyst for the Kop's lifting of the noise. He - the nippy hurrier on to so many hopeful midfield passes - has represented hope through recent grim times. So, when he was withdrawn late in the second half, the crowd's valedictory applause was heartfelt.

In one week, Owen has missed a penalty, collected the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award and turned 19. His fans will be relieved to hear that age has not withered him.

Liverpool's visible improvement brought a measured response from Houllier, who had bemoaned his team's unlucky empty-handedness at Wimbledon last week. "We're not perfect - we know that," he said. "We've got to improve in several areas. But these points will give us confidence."

Suddenly, Houllier's problems seem relatively small alongside those of Wednesday's Danny Wilson. Last season Anfield offered his Barnsley team probably the most joyous away day of their brief but beautiful Premiership life. This time, Wilson, in defeat, was met by questions about his errant Italian Paolo Di Canio, still exiled in Rome.

Had he heard any more from Paolo? "More?" replied Wilson, "I haven't heard anything from him."

Di Canio's return from long- term suspension was scheduled, not inappropriately, for Boxing Day. But he has not trained since going home to Italy and the likelihood is that his grand re-entry will be considerably delayed yet.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on