Fri, Jan 10, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Sheffield United tames Liverpool

SHOCK RESULT The First Division outfit outplayed its Premier League rival in the first leg of its League Cup semifinal but still faces a second leg fixture at Anfield


Teenager Michael Tonge scored two goals in five minutes to give First Division Sheffield United a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Liverpool in their League Cup semifinal first leg clash on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old, who has been linked with Liverpool this season, struck in the 76th and 81st minutes for his first goals in 18 matches to wipe out Neil Mellor's first senior goal for the six-time League Cup winners and left the visitors without a win in Sheffield in their last five trips.

Mellor, 20, opened the scoring as he showed the predatory instincts that brought him 46 goals in the reserves and youth team last season, latching onto Sami Hyppia's header to head home past Patrick Kenny in the 36th minute.

Tonge, though, grabbed a deserved equalizer for the home side after they had stepped up their performance in the second-half as he seized on veteran Stuart McCall's pass and calmly slotted the ball underneath Chris Kirkland in the 76th minute.

Tonge struck again to the disbelief of the Liverpool bench five minutes later when he coolly rounded a defender and blasted the ball into the net after Stephane Henchoz's weak clearance fell to him.

Mellor had missed a golden earlier opportunity to open the score in the 12th minute when El Hadji Diouf passed into the center, but from 5m out he flashed his shot wide.

Diouf, who had scored in the last two League Cup ties, hit the back of the net in a passionless first-half in the 33rd minute but was ruled to be offside.

Sheffield came out in more combative mood in the second-half and 38-year-old McCall -- scorer of two goals for Everton in the 1991 FA Cup final 3-2 defeat by Liverpool -- went close in the 51st minute as his fierce drive curled just wide of the post.

Diouf was denied a rare goal for Liverpool when his powerful header was beaten out by Kenny just after the hour mark and the away fans' spirits were lifted further when England star Michael Owen replaced Mellor in the 70th minute after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.

However it was Sheffield who appeared to be more inspired by Owen's return.

First Zimbabwean international Peter Ndlovu had his header blocked and then Wayne Allison lobbed over the bar after Chris Kirkland rushed out to stop him.

United, though, were not to be denied as Tonge seized his chance with great aplomb.

To further dampen spirits on Merseyside, Liverpool's hopes of avoiding another slip-up in their tricky FA Cup fourth round visit to Crystal Palace took a double blow as bookings for Djimi Traore and Diouf ruled them out of the clash.

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