By Michael Harrold
Steven Gerrard continued his startling goal run in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday with his seventh strike of the summer, as the European champions advanced to the third qualifying round with a 2-0 defeat of FBK Kaunas at Anfield.
Liverpool fans saved their biggest cheer of the night for the introduction of Gerrard, who came on as a 75th-minute substitute for Dietmar Hamann. And the Reds captain needed just two minutes to make another telling contribution, albeit with a helping hand from Kaunas goalkeeper Sarunas Kilijonas, who fumbled his shot over the line.
Not that Liverpool's talisman was complaining. "I'm getting a bit of luck in front of goal at the moment," Gerrard said. "I was very lucky tonight but I'm going to claim the goal and long may it continue. I didn't want the night off. The manager told me I would start on the bench and if needed he would give me some minutes. But I wanted to get on.
I don't like watching football."
Gerrard has scored in every one of Liverpool's qualifying ties since his dramatic about-turn over his decision to leave the club last month. Four days after announcing his future lay away from Anfield, Gerrard was signing a new four-year contract with the club, and he has not looked back since.
Liverpool fans temporarily turned their backs on their hero as he contemplated life away from Anfield, but just a week later they were firmly on side as he opened the season with a hat-trick against Total Network Solutions FC in the first qualifying round at Anfield. Two more goals followed at The Racecourse ground in Wrexham six days later, before Gerrard took his tally to six with a penalty in the first leg against against Kaunas last week.
Gerrard had set Liverpool’s memorable comeback against AC Milan in the Champions League final in motion in May with his side's opening goal. And the 25-year-old English international seems intent on repeating that feat. Ominously, Gerrard warned after scoring for a fifth straight Champions League match, that the best is yet to come from his side. "We are using these Champions League qualifying games as pre-season games but they are quicker than friendlies, so we are getting fitter quicker," he said.
Gerrard is now within six of Michael Owen’s European record of 22 goals for Liverpool. If the midfielder continues at this pace that mark could be surpassed in the group stage - providing he has not scored them against KF Tirana or PFC CSKA Sofia in the third qualifying round that is.
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