Liverpool 2 Porto 0 - CL Quarter Final 2nd leg (Mar 15 2001) - 1st team 2000-2001 - The Liverpool Way Jump to content

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Liverpool 2 Porto 0 - CL Quarter Final 2nd leg (Mar 15 2001)

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Report by Dave Usher at Anfield



Scorer(s) – Danny Murphy, Michael Owen

Half Time - 2-0

Venue - Anfield

Date - Thur 15 March 2001

Star Man – Michael Owen / Steven Gerrard











"Germany, Germany, We're the greatest team in Europe and we're going to Germany" (Providing we can overcome the small obstacle of Barcelona that is). I was more than a bit wary before this game, as although Porto have a bad away record, my worry was that if they had manged to score first we could have had a big problem. Aside from the away tie in Liberec, we haven't won a game after conceding first all season, so the first goal was always going to be crucial.


Right from the kick off though, it was obvious that the lads were up this one. They took the game by the scruff of the neck, led by by the awesome Steven Gerrard and lively Michael Owen. Gerrard is so good that it is truly frightening. The lad is absolutely amazing. He's often compared with Roy Keane, but that's flattering in the extreme, to Keane that is. Stevie can do everything, and just watching him play is a priviledge.


Owen too, looked in great form. This was his best performance in months, although to say he is back to his best is premature at this stage. Owen at his best would have put three or four past Porto. That's not being critical of his performance, which was excellent, it's just that my expectations of him are so high, and this is because of what I saw from him in his youth team days.


Watching Michael in the '96 Youth Cup campaign, I can honestly say that at that time I had never seen anyone like him. I'd never before seen a player who could strike fear into the opposition every single time he got the ball (John Barnes being the possible exception). Michael did that, he was unbelievable, and although it was only at youth level, I said at that time that he would go on to become the greatest player I'd ever seen.


The way he started his first team career backed up that opinion, and just ask Argentina about him, but then came the injuries. Since then we've seen glimpses of Owen at his best, but he has been unable to sustain it due to his fitness problems. He's got a long way to go, but the signs looked good against Porto. The spring was back in his step, and he was once again running at defenders. That's something we've hardly seen from him this season. He still has weaknesses of course, but you only have to look at how many goals he's got with his head this season to see that he's been working on them.


Porto were scared of Owen, and Barcelona will be too. Barca's defenders don't like facing forwards with pace because a) their back four are pretty slow, and b) they defend very high up the pitch. Whilst he was at Valencia, Claudio Lopez tormented Barcelona, and a fully fit, top of his form Michael Owen could do the same.


The atmosphere against Porto was great too, a typical European night at Anfield. The fans were up for it, the players were up for it, and Porto were simpy steamrollered. I don't think this was a performance of great quality, but it was efficient, convincing, and I'd take this every time.


From the moment Murphy took Gerrard's fantastic cross on his chest (and then his arm) and found the bottom corner, the outcome was never in doubt, although had Sander not pulled off a smart save a couple of minutes later we may have seen a different game entirely. Other than that one chance though, Porto were toothless.


They were also guilty of some shameful playacting, but full marks to the ref who was having none of it. Most foreign refs seem to go along with the playacting, but not Mr Milton-Nielson. The sight of Secretario lying prone for five minutes with the ref steadfastly refusing to allow the physio on will stay in the memory for some time.


The reds back four were again dominant, with Carra the pick of the bunch for me, and Hamann was once again outstanding patrolling in front of them. Since the first Roma game, Hamann's form (and more importantly workrate) has been superb. I keep expecting him to slip back into his old ways, but so far I've been pleasantly surprised. Long may it continue.


It wasn't Vladi's night though. He didn't have a bad game, but not much came off for him, and in the end he looked as though he was pleading with the bench to take him off. He looked knackered, and kept looking longingly towards the bench. He looked relieved when Jari came on to replace him.


The Porto keeper has been criticised for not saving Owen's header, but I've watched it several times since and don't think he could do anything about it. It was a good header, and was out of his reach. He did pull off one great save though to deny Stevie G. Had that gone in, it would have been one of the greatest goals I've ever seen, although no doubt it wouldn't have made BBC's top ten goals of the month. (after all, his 35 yard screamer on New Years Day against Southampton didn't get in January's top ten).


All things considered, I'd say that the team proved a point to people with this display, me included. I'm now starting to feel more and more confident when we go into importnat games. The treble is still on, but in order to make it three finals in one season we have to overcome Barcelona, and er...Wycombe Wanderers! It is indeed "A funny old game"




TEAM: Sander Westerveld; Markus Babbel, Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz, Jamie Carragher; Steven Gerrard, Dietmar Hamann, Danny Murphy (Christian Ziege), Vladimir Smicer (Jari Litmanen); Robbie Fowler (Emile Heskey), Michael Owen :

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