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Liverpool 3 Newcastle 0 - Prem (May 5 2001)

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LIVERPOOL 3 Newcastle 0

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield



Scorer(s) – Michael Owen (3)

Half Time - 1-0

Venue - Anfield

Date - Sat 5 May 2001

Star Man – Michael Owen











Alaves recently announced that they'd be producing a new kit to commemorate their first ever European Final. It's just a shame they won't be wearing black and white stripes, as there's just something about those colours that brings out the best in Michael Owen. He's now scored 12 goals in just seven games against the Geordies, and they must be sick of the sight of him.


He could have had five or six today, but in the end settled for just the three, as the reds comfortably saw off a Newcastle side who at least came to play rather than simply get ten men behind the ball like most visitors to Anfield seem to do these days. I fancied us strongly before this game, because with Newcastle having nothing to play for, you knew they'd come here and have a go, especially as Bobby Robson isn't the type of manager who would try to simply shut up shop and play for a point.


Liverpool only struggle when the opposition puts up a blanket defence. If anyone wants to play an open game against us, you'd fancy us to win every time, and today was no different. Right from the first couple of minutes it was obvious that there'd be chances in this game. The Geordies were defending high up the pitch, which isn't exactly a smart thing to do when you're facing Michael Owen, particularly a Michael Owen who has shown in the last couple of games that he's finally managed to rediscover that explosive pace that makes him without doubt THE most dangerous striker in the Premiership bar none when he's on form.


I still don't think he's at his very best, as when he is you'll see him picking the ball up deep and running at defenders. At the moment he's just running beyond them onto through balls. When he hits tip top form, there'll be no stopping him. Still, this will do for now!


He could have scored after only a couple of minutes, but was denied by Shay Given. It was a sign of things to come though, as Dabizas and O'Brien in the Toon defence were ran ragged all afternoon by little Mickey. The reds started well with Smicer showing some lovely touches, and Gerrard and McAllister cleverly prompting from midfield. It was Markus Babbel (who had a fantastic game yet again) though who created the opener, with a superb through ball for the lighteningly quick Owen to run onto and finish in style.


More could, and should have followed, but some wasteful finishing meant that it was just the one at half time. With the reds rock solid backline, I'm sure most of us were pretty confident that one would be enough, but you always want another simply to spare us from having the nervy final few minutes. We've had more than enough of those this season (Roma and Barca at home immediately spring to mind).


We started the second half badly, and just couldn't get going. It needed a good clearance of the line from Henchoz to deny the dangerous Solano, and that incident seemed to wake the lads from their slumber. Gerrard hadn't looked himself at all, much like the other night at Bradford in fact. He was still pretty good, but we've come to expect him to be 'Superman' thanks to his brilliant displays week in week out. Anyway, 'Superman' was replaced by 'SuperDan', who barely put a foot right when he came on! Not one of Danny's better cameo appearances this one.


Smicer was replaced by his mate Paddy, who hasn't really looked right since coming back from injury. He's done okay, but he hasn't been the Paddy we know and love that's for sure. Today though he looked razor sharp right from the off, showing some lovely touches and joining up well with the attack. It was no surprise therefore when his precision through ball split the defence and allowed Owen another free run on goal. The finish was nonchalant in the extreme. 2-0.


That was the goal that would give us some breathing space and allow us to play with a bit more freedom. Heskey, who had done a good job holding the ball up and defending from the front, but had not looked threatening at all, was replaced by Fowler, who promptly set up St Michael for his hat-trick, with a stunning sixty yard ball which Owen ran onto before finishing with aplomb once again, the ball going in off the inside of the far post. It was a fantastic goal, and one of the best I've seen at Anfield all season. Simple, but brilliantly executed. It was nice to hear "Michael Owen scores the goals..." ringing around the stadium, but it's a shame that he has to score a hat-trick before he receives such recognition.


The result at Highbury basically means now that if we beat the 'Village People' on tuesday, we're pretty much guaranteed third spot, unless Leeds win their last two games 10-0 or so! Interesting to see that the mancs were beaten at home by a Derby Country side without 13 senior players today. No-one in the press seems willing to say this (they're all giving Derby credit), so I will. United threw this game to ensure that City go down. We know it, Derby know and I'm sure as hell that City know it.


I'm pissed off about it, but I have to say that if the shoe was on the other foot and we had the chance to send Everton down, I don't think I would ever forgive our players if we won the game, so it's hard to criticize United for doing it I suppose. That doesn't make it right though, and I bet Old Fathead will be seething tonight. That almost makes it worthwhile, but I still hope they can manage to stay up as I was really looking forward to seeing the next installment of the Keane/Haaland feud.



TEAM: Westerveld; Babbel, Hyypia, Henchoz, Carragher; Gerrard (Murphy), Hamann, McAllister, Smicer (Berger); Owen, Heskey (Fowler):

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