By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Emile Heskey feels he's given his
manager an awesome selection dilemma after grabbing Liverpool's 400th
European goal last night.
Heskey's double capped a dominant 5-0 victory over Spartak Moscow as the
Reds re-established their Champions ' League credentials.
It was only the second time Heskey has started in attack this season,
largely due to the form of Milan Baros.
Now, the pair will push each other for a starting place against Chelsea
and Heskey thinks boss Gerard Houllier will be delighted to be so spoilt
Heskey said: "It's a good dilemma for the manager to have. He knows
whoever he picks is going to get him goals and just as importantly give
him 100 per cent every week. But whether I score or not, I always go out
there and try my best no matter where I'm playing.
"It was good to be up front again last night. I enjoy being up there, but
if the manager wants me to go back left for the team, I'm prepared to do
"It was nice getting among the goals, but the team's overall performance
was the most important thing. Everyone was brilliant.
" The passing and tempo of the game was exactly what we wanted. We'd been
frustrated last week against Basle and funnily enough I think we probably
had more shots against them than we did last night."
Heskey's second took Liverpool to 400 European goals, although the striker
admits he wasn't aware of record until after the game.
"I didn't realise it was our 400th goal in Europe, but that's good to
know," said Heskey. "Michael put me in and it was a nice feeling to see it
go into the corner. I thought Michael was very unlucky not to score
"He had a brilliant game again and he was unfortunate when he hit the
post. He gives everyone a lift when he's on the pitch.
"It's a much better position for us to be in the group now. We dropped
points against Basle because we didn't get what we deserved. We got our
just rewards last night and now we're hoping to push on even further."
Heskey takes centre stage
Andy Hunter - icLiverpool
Just as Sam Torrance sought Sir Alex
Ferguson's advice before the Ryder Cup, so Gerard Houllier must have
turned to Tony Blair to confront
the thorny issue of Europe.
What else can explain the New Labour-style decision to move Emile Heskey
from wide on the left into the centre for immediate results. And in party
conference week too!
It could be a coincidence of course, or just the fact that Liverpool
slipped comfortably back into the old routine to outclass sorry Spartak
Moscow and get their Champions League show back on the road last night.
With Heskey back alongside Michael Owen and the pair looking like they'd
never been apart, the Reds rapidly and rampantly turned a faltering start
to this European campaign into a promising one.
From the home of vodka came absolut rubbish. But Moscow would not have
been alone in struggling to contain Liverpool on this form.
A fair criticism of the group format is that success is not decided on one
night. This could just be the exception.
Spartak Moscow were always shaping up to be the Group B whipping boys with
the scores racked up against them possibly decisive in the final
And while there was never any doubt the Reds would finally collect their
first Champions League victory after Heskey's seventh-minute opener,
events elsewhere decreed this was a perfect night for Houllier's team.
The Reds boss could have told Christian Gross from bitter experience to
fear the Mestalla Stadium, but the magnitude of Basel's drubbing by
Valencia has unexpectedly shifted the power in his direction.
From experience, Houllier will know Liverpool are primed to prosper.
Last season they opened the first group stage with two disappointing draws
before, in the sudden absence of their sick manager, becoming the first
English team to triumph in Kiev and the second phase soon beckoned.
There, they overcame an identical beginning to this adventure - beaten by
Barcelona and drawing in Rome - to advance once more.
Now, despite another stuttering start, they have worked themselves into a
position to determine their own fate. And as they ominously click into
gear at home and abroad few would now bet against the Reds passing 'Go'
again with wins in Russia and Switzerland.
Certainly not in Moscow anyway, judging by last night's shocker from
Without a win from their last 13 European tests the Russian champions
proved that wasn't just an unfortunate run with no chance of ever taking
anything from the 14th.
Coach Oleg Romantsev needed only 25 minutes of torture to make his first
substitution, the number 55 on the back of the replaced Dmitry Khlestov
symbolic of the amount of passes he'd given away before being put out of
Moscow were simply the worst European team Anfield has hosted since their
return to Continental competition three seasons ago, but even so this was
the night when Liverpool promised to vent the attacking frustrations of
Basel and delivered.
As bad as Spartak were, Liverpool's play was without fault.
It is no coincidence their form has returned with the return of a settled,
And with the familiar forward line back in tandem, Anfield relished the
comforts of old.
Within three minutes Liverpool had threatened, as the excellent Danny
Murphy, John Arne Riise and Steven Gerrard combined for the latter to fire
in a low drive which Moises lunged at to block.
It was an early scare Spartak never heeded; in fact they look petrified
for the rest of the game and Heskey soon compounded their fears.
A long ball out of defence by Riise suddenly turned into a quality assist
when it parted the Spartak defence, much to the credit of Moises.
Liverpool's forward pair even had time to leave the ball to each other and
still no defender arrived to clear up the danger.
So Heskey took up the invitation and popped the ball over Stanislav
The Reds attack was strongly supported by Bruno Cheyrou sitting just
behind, but Heskey was a dominant figure, chasing every cause and winning
most of them.
He stole the ball from Yuri Kovtun to instigate Liverpool's second which,
after Owen had been tackled, saw Murphy take possession and his time to
roll a weighted pass into Cheyrou's stride. The Frenchman slipped the ball
under the keeper for his first goal for the club.
There were never any worries a two-goal lead at Anfield wouldn't be enough
in this game, but the third duly arrived on 28 minutes.
Gerrard had clearly been singled out for special Russian treatment, three
Spartak players were booked for fouling the Reds midfielder but still he
ran them ragged, and when Murphy whipped in a freekick following another
assault Sami Hyypia rose majestically the head into the bottom corner.
At 39, Moscow keeper Cherchesov didn't need this battering on his back.
But after their Basel faulty finishing, Liverpool were in no mood for
The visitors had tried to contain their rampant hosts as best they could
after the restart until a final flourish gave the scoreline an accurate
Heskey's deep cross in the 81st minute presented another summer signing
with his first Liverpool goal, as substitute Salif Diao climbed highest to
nod in at the back post.
The provider turned poacher two minutes from time when Owen unselfishly
passed up a shooting chance he'd carved open for himself and played Heskey
clear on the right of the box, a slammed finish into the far corner
completing the rout in style.
Liverpool's striking duo were at the heart of every flowing move, and the
fact Owen failed to register in a five-goal hammering will not disguise
the role he had to play.
He suffered some bad luck, especially after turning two defenders inside
out only to see a sublime chip strike the post in the first half, and
missed a decent chance to convert when Hamann's freekick spilled into his
But his movement, awareness and creativity were superb. Owen didn't get
the goal in front of the Kop he desperately wanted, but the Kop got the
goals and the points they craved.
Houllier praises in-form Heskey
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson saw
Emile Heskey burst back into goalscoring form as Liverpool thrashed
Spartak Moscow 5-0.
Heskey grabbed two goals and created another for Salif Diao in a display
that had boss Gerard Houllier crowing: "Emile had power, strength and
speed, and that was very important against Moscow, he was outstanding."
"It was the right time to put Emile back in as a striker. He was excellent
against Manchester City, and he was important for us against Spartak with
"He scored two, made another for Diao. I knew it was the right time to put
him back up front."
Houllier, who last week saw his side create 27 chances and score just
once, witnessed his team take that total over the 50-mark in two games,
and said: "I still can't believe that we didn't score more against Basle.
"But this time the scoreline didn't flatter us, it could have been a lot
"Michael Owen may not have scored, but he was excellent, he created
chances for others.
"We played some fine football, we had a high tempo from the start and we
made Spartak look ordinary.
"Our running off the ball, our width and creative play, were the
foundations to this result. This time we created the chances and scored
"We now go to Moscow for our next match in a fortnight, and hopefully our
excellent away form in the Premiership will help us to do well there, too.
"One game is never like another, but we are ready to go to Moscow and get
a positive result."
Five-star Liverpool rout
By James Dart - Sportinglife.com
Liverpool finally found their Champions
League stride at the third time of asking as they cruised to a thumping
5-0 victory over Spartak Moscow at Anfield.
Having collected just one point from their opening two Group B games,
victory was imperative for Gerard Houllier's side and they duly delivered.
Emile Heskey opened the scoring after seven minutes as he burst clear
before using his power and pace to hold off a defender and slot home.
celebrates his goal.
It was 2-0 on 14 when Bruno Cheyrou doubled Liverpool's advantage with a
neat finish after Danny Murphy's astute lay-off.
Michael Owen, without a goal in this competition so far this season, was
unfortunate not to break his European duck when his shot rebounded off a
post and out to safety.
But Spartak were clearly out of sorts, having failed to win in their 13
previous Champions League games, and they fell further behind in the 28th
Murphy crossed from a free-kick wide on the left and skipper Sami Hyypia
rose highest to head powerfully past Stanislav Cherchessov in the Spartak
The Russians came out with a little more purpose in the second period as a
little lethargy began to creep into Liverpool's game.
However, they were to put the seal on a comfortable victory with two goals
in the final nine minutes.
Firstly, substitute Salif Diao headed home Heskey's cross on 81 minutes
before Heskey bagged his second of the game in the 89th minute with a low
shot from 12 yards after more good work from the tireless Owen