Jamie Redknapp celebrated Liverpool's return to European competition with a spectacular 30-yard strike that sealed an impressive victory over the Russian league leaders, Spartak Vladikavkaz, in the first-round first- leg tie of the Uefa Cup last night.
Redknapp made his mark after 52 minutes. The goalkeeper Zavr Khapov was transfixed as Redknapp's sizzling drive into the top right-hand corner silenced the 43,000 fans who had seen their side concede a first-half lead.
Fittingly, it was Steve McManaman who drew Liverpool level. McManaman, Liverpool's most experienced European player with 12 appearances, had squandered a scoring chance on 24 minutes after Mirdjal Kosynov had caught out David James from a free-kick to give the Russians the lead.
However, McManaman hauled Liverpool level in spectacular style after 32 minutes. He was picked out by Steve Harkness, but appeared to have been forced too wide by Khapov. McManaman remained composed, however, and with the goalkeeper stranded, he curled a right-foot shot into the net from the tightest of angles.
Liverpool's defensive formation - with Robbie Fowler a substitute and Stan Collymore the lone striker - was tested early and vigorously. Neil Ruddock was booked after 10 minutes for a foul on Kanichev. The Russians made strong claims for a penalty five minutes later when Tetradze picked out Tedaev in the area and the Vladikavkaz player went down under a challenge from Rob Jones. However the French referee dismissed the Russian players' appeals, but the home side's breakthrough was not long in coming.
This time Mark Wright tripped Kanichev two yards outside the area, and Kosynov hoodwinked James. He shaped as if to cross to the far post but instead blasted a left-foot drive in the opposite direction and the Liverpool goalkeeper could only stumble the ball over the line.
Vladikavkaz suffered a blow when Kasinov failed to appear after the interval having required treatment earlier in the game. Without him they looked bereft of ideas, confined to shooting from long range.
However, Liverpool, returning to European competition for the first time in three seasons, grew in confidence as the game developed and must now strongly fancy their chances of going on to triumph in the second leg at Anfield in a fortnight's time.
Spartak Vladikavkaz: Khapov; (Pagaev Tinofeev, h/t), Gorlukovich (Koknienko, 79), Chelia, Djioev, Tetradze, Tedaev, Yanovski, Kosinov, (Derkash, h/t), Ktanithev, Kavelasachvili. Substitutes not used: Datdeev, Grishikachvili.
Liverpool: James; Jones, Harkness, Babb, Wright, Ruddock, McManaman, Collymore, (Fowler, 78), Thomas, Barnes, Redknapp. Substitutes not used: Warner, Clough, Kennedy, Matteo.
Referee: Reni Harol (Fr).Reuse content