Football: Ruddock has to own up

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Sheffield Wednesday. .3

Ruddock (og) 30, Wright (og) 59, Bright 80

Liverpool. .1

Fowler, 37

Attendance: 32,177

SOMETIMES, Liverpool must feel like withdrawing from public life. The most glamorous product of their generation, dogged by the media, not what they once were, they must long for more privacy.

Yesterday at Hillsborough was a case in point. Having been out-thought by Sheffield Wednesday for much of the contest they also conceded two own goals of the type which should definitely be seen only behind closed doors. Much of Liverpool's passing, especially from defence, was shoddy and Wednesday, while guilty themselves of some fairly innocuous errors in front of goal, quickly worked out that Liverpool's defenders got lost more easily than their manager Graeme Souness's temper.

Throughout the match the eye naturally drifted to Chris Waddle and John Barnes, two old-time ball players who will not appear on the same field many more times. Waddle, on the right wing, did much as he pleased, and Barnes made 35 yards in the second half down the left by merely showing the defender the ball several times and taking it away again.

It was delightful youth, however, which gave the match its best goal. Rob Jones cruised into the box - though what he was doing there begged some questions and eventually prodded the ball to Robbie Fowler. At 18, the precocious striker has no adolescent apprehension, and struck the ball cleanly into the bottom right-hand corner. Fowler was operating upfront without Ian Rush, who according to Souness was 'jaded' and needed a rest.

The goal brought Liverpool level after Neil Ruddock's thigh had given Wednesday the lead, which, following some of Ruddock's challenges, was justice.

His central defensive partner, Mark Wright, may have been slightly more embarrassed when he slid Waddle's cross past Grobbelaar to hand the lead back to Wednesday in the 59th minute. Liverpool's defence was again in disarray when Mark Bright completed the scoring to send Liverpool in for a long, private chat.

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