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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 August 2006, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Sheffield United 1-1 Liverpool
By John Sinnott

Rob Hulse
Hulse celebrates his first goal for Sheffield United
Sheffield United held Liverpool to a draw to make a promising return to the Premiership after a 12-year absence.

United took the lead early in the second half as Rob Hulse headed home to punish some sloppy Liverpool defending.

For the next 20 minutes, Liverpool camped inside the United half as Sami Hyypia hit the woodwork with a header before Robbie Fowler equalised.

Fowler calmly stroked home a penalty after referee Rob Styles ruled Chris Morgan had fouled Steven Gerrard.

If Liverpool were probably worth a point, the penalty appeared somewhat fortuitous, with Morgan seeming to make little contact with the Liverpool captain.

As well as the loss of two points, the game proved a costly encounter in other ways for the visitors, who lost defenders John Arne Riise and Jamie Carragher to injury in the first half.

606 VIEW

United gave Liverpool a real jolt when they scored within 50 seconds of the second half starting.

Hulse, making his United debut, easily lost his marker Fabio Aurelio to glance a header past Jose Reina from a Michael Tonge free-kick.

Liverpool surged forward and almost equalised immediately when Hyypia's angled header from a corner hit a post.

Fowler and Mark Gonzalez also found themselves in promising positions only to lose their footing.

Fowler then failed to get any purchase on a cross from Craig Bellamy, who also tested United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny with a diving header.

United opted to pack their midfield in the first half in order to disrupt Liverpool's fluency.

It was a tactic that served the home side well.

When United did get the ball forward to Danny Webber, his trickery caused the visitors some problems.

Liverpool took their time to get into the game but twice went close midway through the first half.

Riise arrowed in a cross from the left that required Chris Morgan to hastily head clear.

Then Kenny had to react quickly to save Chris Armstrong's misdirected clearance from Gerrard's free-kick.

Riise hurt his ankle in the first incident and was stretchered off, with Chilean Gonzalez coming on.

Having established some degree of dominance, Liverpool were also hit by the loss of Carragher, who was replaced by Daniel Agger.

Despite the setbacks, they continued to threaten.

Kenny had to tip Aurelio's dipping free-kick over the crossbar while Fowler should have given Liverpool the lead a minute before the interval.

After being freed by Bellamy, the former England international wasted the chance when he miscontrolled.

  • Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock:
    "It's disappointing to be talking about one penalty incident because I thought we were magnificent.

    "A lot of people have written us off this season, but I thought we played football the right way when we could.

    "We were against a very good side who will go very close this season. In the end it was a fair result."

  • Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
    "It was a clear penalty and a red card. It's as simple as that.

    "Gerrard said he felt contact, the referee said penalty so it should be a straight red card as he is the last player in front of the keeper.

    "But I'm not annoyed he wasn't sent off. Instead we should analyse every other free-kick and throw in."

    Sheff Utd: Kenny, Geary, Bromby (Leigertwood 75), Morgan, Unsworth, Ifill (Gillespie 59), Jagielka, Tonge, Armstrong, Hulse (Akinbiyi 86), Webber.
    Subs Not Used: Sommeil, Nade.

    Booked: Morgan.

    Goals: Hulse 46.

    Liverpool: Reina, Kromkamp, Hyypia, Carragher (Agger 34), Riise (Gonzalez 26), Gerrard, Sissoko, Zenden, Aurelio, Fowler (Pennant 83), Bellamy.
    Subs Not Used: Dudek, Crouch.

    Booked: Sissoko, Kromkamp.

    Goals: Fowler 70 pen.

    Att: 31,726.

    Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).

    Saturday's football photos
    19 Aug 06 |  Football
    Reds lose Riise to ankle injury
    19 Aug 06 |  Liverpool


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