Leeds United. . .0
MARK WALTERS, until recently cast in the role of one of the high-priced under-achievers whose failure to produce the goods accounts for Liverpool's disappointing season, has started to win matches for them.
His contribution at Anfield last night might have been less spectacular than his hat-trick against Coventry at the weekend, but it was equally damaging for a Leeds side which has yet to win an away game in the Premier League.
Walters, playing with more confidence than at any time in his Liverpool career, had been his side's most dangerous player during the first half when Leeds had more than their share of play, despite their miserable record on their travels.
Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed and, on one of his occasional appearances, David Rocastle, all contributed some enterprising flourishes without any result.
A 70-yard run and shot from Walters that skimmed the far post was Liverpools' best piece of work. With his young marker, Kevin Sharp, struggling to contain him, it was always on the cards that he would be the architect of a Liverpool victory.
Walters' first decisive intervention came in the 54th minute when he accelerated clear and floated an inviting cross beyond John Lukic's range. John Barnes was able to jump unhindered and head powerfully down for his first goal in 15 games.
Leeds, still looking potentially sprightly, came painfully close to an equaliser, Rod Wallace's shot coming back off the inside of the post after Strachan had put him clear.
There was more and worse torment in store for Sharp, however. He was beaten by Walter's quick turn and dart into the penalty area and all Leeds' protests that the winger had taken a dive were in vain.
Wallace took the penalty himself, Lukic diving the wrong way. Again Leeds had an immediate opportunity to respond when Mark Wright's attempt at a clearance was charged down by Speed. His shot was too tame to spark a late revival by a side mocked by the Kop as 'one season champions'. And Liverpool, already assured of their highest placing so far this season, could have increased their lead in the last few minutes.
Liverpool: James; R Jones, Burrows, Nicol, Wright, Whelan, Stewart, Hutchison, Rush, Barnes, Walters. Substitutes not used: Rosenthal, Piechnik, Hooper (gk).
Leeds United: Lukic; Kerslake (Ray Wallace, 18), Sharp, Rocastle, Newsome, Whyte, Strachan, Rod Wallace, Chapman, Shutt, Speed. Substitutes not used: Tinkler, Day (gk).
Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).Reuse content