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Barnsley's nerves of Steele
by Paul Kennedy, February 18th, 2008 7AM

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[ENGLAND WATCH] Luke Steele, once considered Manchester United's next-great goalkeeping prospect, had not played in two months and had only made two appearances in the last year, so he jumped at the chance to join Barnsley on loan from League Championship (second division) rival West Bromwich and start against mighty Liverpool in Saturday's FA Cup match.

No one would have predicted the outcome as Steele produced a string of late saves that kept Barnsley in the game as it rallied to knock off Liverpool, 2-1, at Anfield.

The FA Cup has been an adventure for Liverpool this season as it struggled to put away bankrupt Luton Town and non-league Havant & Waterlooville. But with a key Champions League match coming up this week against Italian champion Inter Milan, Steven Gerrard started the game on the bench and Fernando Torres did not suit up.

The Reds looked to be safe when Dutchman Dirk Kuyt put the Reds ahead in the 32nd minute, but Stephen Foster scored the equalizer and captain Brian Howard beat Charles Itandje with the winning goal in stoppage time to clinch the dramatic upset.

Steele was needed because the Barnsley starting goalie, German Heinz Muller, was sidelined with a knee injury, and backup Tony Warner was cup-tied.

After Foster's equalizer, the Reds piled on the pressure, but Steele came up with big saves on Lucas, Yossi Benayoun and Harry Kewell.

"I got a phone call and was told I had a chance to come and play at Anfield straight away," Steele said. "Obviously, I said yes immediately. I couldn't believe it, really, as it's been a frustrating time. To play any game at the moment is important to me, but to come here is amazing. There were some nerves on Thursday, but when I woke up this morning I just wanted to get on with the game. The nerves had gone and I felt brilliant."

The game appeared headed to a replay at Barnsley, when the visitors stole the victory on Howard's goal.

"I was that tired," Howard said. "I thought I'd just kick it and if it goes in the stand it'll waste time."

The big match of the fifth round was supposed to be the showdown between EPL leaders Arsenal and Manchester United, but it was a non-contest as United romped, 4-0.

The star of the show was Portuguese newcomer Nani, who scored once and helped set up the other three goals -- Wayne Rooney with the first goal and Scotsman Darren Fletcher on a pair of headers -- and infuriated Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who claimed that the young winger had "humiliated" his Gunners with his juggling act. [VIDEO ]

FA CUP RESULTS
Saturday
Manchester United 4 Arsenal 0
Cardiff City (II) 2 Wolves (II) 0
Chelsea 3 Huddersfield Town (III) 1
Coventry City (II) 0 West Brom (II) 5
Liverpool 1 Barnsley (II) 2
Bristol Rovers (III) 1 Southampton (II) 0
Sunday
Preston North End (DII) 0 Portsmouth 1
Sheffield United (II) 0 Middlesbrough 0

 

 



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