Baros treble downs Eagles
By Paul Higham. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
A last minute Milan Baros penalty earned Liverpool a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield, with the Czech star bagging a hat-trick.
Baros underlined how important he is to The Reds with a sparkling performance and a hat-trick, including two penalties, to deny a battling Palace side a point on Merseyside.
Joonas Kolkka cancelled out Baros' early penalty with a thunderbolt just before half time, but there was still time for Rafa Benitez's side to go ahead when Baros got on the end of Harry Kewell's cross in first half stoppage time.
Liverpool dominated the game but missed too many chances and were punished when Michael Hughes' header made it 2-2 six minutes after the break in a rare away attack, but it long looked like enough to earn a point.
Palace defended with great spirit and Liverpool were running out of time when Baros was again felled in the box and he kept his nerve to just about beat Gabor Kiraly and earn a vital three points for the hosts.
Palace tested Chris Kirkland early when Ben Watson fired in a shot and the big goalkeeper needed a second attempt to gather the ball.
Liverpool soon got into their stride and it was Jamie Carragher who popped up inside the box to bring down Xabi Alonso's long ball, but the centre half could not get a shot in on target.
The Reds got the breakthrough on 23 minutes when Mikele Leigertwood brought down Baros inside the box and referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot.
The Czech Republic forward picked himself up to coolly dispatch the penalty past Gabor Kiraly for 1-0.
Baros was sent tumbling inside the box a few minutes late but this time Dowd waved away Liverpool's penalty appeals.
Palace then stunned the Kop be levelling a minute before the break when Kolkka picked up the ball on the left of the box and unleashed a wonderful strike which flew past Kirkland.
The home side's response was instant, and Baros restored their advantage in first half stoppage time when Harry Kewell raced into the box down the right to square Alonso's free kick for Baros to bundle in.
Incredibly, Liverpool could have gone in 3-1 ahead at half time when John Arne Riise squared a ball from the left for Luis Garcia, but his effort was clawed away by Kiraly right on the goal line.
The Reds started the second half brightly with Baros looking desperate to grab a hat-trick, but was denied a chance when adjudged to have handled when galloping through.
Baros then had a near post header well saved by Kiraly, before firing just wide from the edge of the box when Luis Garcia's original shot had been blocked.
Liverpool were left to rue their missed chances when some slack play led to another shock Palace equaliser.
Kolkka was allowed far too much time and space out on the left and his good ball in found Michael Hughes totally unmarked and able to head in past the helpless Kirkland from ten yards.
Liverpool went in search of a third goal, with Alonso firing a free kick just wide and Riise having two ferocious efforts fly just wide.
The home side piled forward in search of a winner but, as Palace were forced further and further back, they defended desperately at times but always did enough to prevent a clear shot at goal.
A frustrated Liverpool looked like having to settle for a point but Baros was still full of running, and was awarded another penalty in the 90th minute when Tony Popovic brought him down after another purposeful run from the Czech.
Kiraly was booked for his antics before the spot kick, and it nearly worked as he got a firm touch on Baros' penalty, but it was not enough to stop him collecting his hat-trick and earning three points for Liverpool.
|Team Name||Liverpool||Crystal Palace|
|Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||6||3|
|Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||13||0|
|Total Fouls Conceded||15||18|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|