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Saturday, 20 October, 2001, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Fowler outwits hapless Foxes
Liverpool hat-trick hero Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler vindicated Phil Thompson's faith
Leicester 1-4 Liverpool
E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

For once, Liverpool's stand-in manager Phil Thompson was happy to see Robbie Fowler gatecrash a party.

Gerard Houllier's assistant manager and Liverpool's forgotten striker recently kissed and made up following a training ground spat.

  Filbert Street goals
4 mins: Fowler fires home after Riise's shot is blocked by Walker
10 mins: Hyypia heads home from McAllister's free-kick
43 mins: Fowler clinically dispatches Murphy's cross
58 mins: Wise heads home unmarked from Davison's cross
90 mins: Fowler completes his hat-trick with a stunning right-foot volley

Fowler then found his Anfield future thrown into further doubt when he went out for a night on the town in the week of England's crucial World Cup match against Greece.

But Thompson, deputising during Houllier's recuperation from heart surgery, recalled Fowler to Liverpool's starting line-up and was rewarded with a superb hat-trick.

Fowler's celebrations, as a stinging last-minute volley ensured he took the match ball home, could hardly have been in starker contrast to Ade Akinbiyi's fortunes.

The 5m misfit striker claimed a hat-trick of his own, though his treble was made up of missed sitters.

Fowler, though, could do no wrong.

It was a splendid hat-trick but the frightening thing is that Robbie can be even better
Liverpool coach Phil Thompson

His first, inside the opening four minutes, quickly wiped the smile from Dave Bassett's face.

Leicester's newly-appointed manager was still milking the applause in his first home game as manager when a defensive mix-up gifted Liverpool their opener.

Robbie Savage and Ian Marshall got in a muddle to concede a corner from which goalkeeper Ian Walker superbly blocked John Arne Riise's shot, only to see Fowler sweep up.

Six minutes later, Leicester's miserable season took yet another downward lurch.

Liverpool's stand-in manager Phil Thompson
Phil Thompson barks his orders at Liverpool

Gary McAllister whipped a dangerous free kick to the near post and Leicester's defence stood and watched as defender Sami Hyypia stole forward to head home.

Shell-shocked Leicester, beaten 6-0 by Leeds in their last home game, managed a response of sorts as Ade Akinbiyi was given the chance of salvaging something from the wreckage in a one-on-one with Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek.

Instead, his woeful shot over the top of the crossbar only served to compound the misery.

The Filbert Street fans booed and threw their programmes at the hapless striker.

Whether Ade Akinbiyi is just having a bad time or does not have the quality, only time will tell
Leicester boss Dave Bassett

Then, after another Akinbiyi half-chance had gone begging, Fowler's second goal put the game well out of the reach of even Bassett's Houdini reputation.

Two minutes before half-time, another Marshall slip allowed Danny Murphy to run clear down the left and roll a pass that was clinically turned home by the grateful Fowler.

The strike ultimately proved crucial, as Leicester's pride ensured a mini-revival after half time.

Leicester manager Dave Bassett
Dave Bassett saw his side torn apart in the first half
Dennis Wise pulled one back on 58 minutes, heading home unmarked after Callum Davison had lofted a cross into the danger area.

Had another Leicester chance been converted, things may well have ended differently.

Unfortunately, their best opportunities continued to fall to Akinbiyi.

First, the 5m striker spooned a shot horribly over the crossbar, then he somehow managed to flash a header wide with the goal at his mercy.

His expression told the story of Leicester's day - and of their season - and Fowler rubbed salt in the wounds with a quality finish on the volley from Vladimir Smicer's cross in the final minute.

E-mail your reaction to Football Talk:
Leicester fans
here | Liverpool fans here

Leicester: Walker, Marshall, Sinclair, Elliott, Davidson, Savage, Wise, Jones, Benjamin, Sturridge, Akinbiyi. Subs: Royce, Lewis, Impey, Heath, Piper.

Liverpool: Dudek, Wright, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, McAllister, Redknapp, Murphy, Fowler, Heskey. Subs: Kirkland, Smicer, Berger, Barmby, Litmanen.

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)

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BBC Sport's Alan Green
"A comfortable win for Liverpool"
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