Houllier confident of fourth place finish
Gerard Houllier has "every confidence" that his
Liverpool side will claim fourth place in the
Barclaycard Premiership and the Champions League spot
that goes with it.
Liverpool beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at Anfield to move a
point clear of Aston Villa in fourth and Houllier tipped
his players to complete the job.
After Danny Murphy and Emile Heskey secured maximum
points, Houllier told Sky Sports 1: "The defeat against
Charlton probably affected our confidence but I have
every confidence in the boys that they will make it.
"The fight for the fourth place will go maybe right to
the end. We'll give our best shot to secure that place."
The Frenchman admitted nerves had troubled Liverpool but
had words of praise for Michael Owen, who helped break
down Boro's resolute defence.
He added: "I thought it was a cracking game of football.
The first half was high tempo, both teams wanted to
score and I enjoyed it.
"The boys did extremely well in terms of defending
because Middlesbrough were coming to get a result.
"In the second half we had more penetration and a couple
of good moves and scored two good goals. Michael was
instrumental because he got the penalty and made the
second goal for Emile.
"After that we tried to keep the result more than get a
third goal but you can understand that in the position
we are in.
"I thought at times we were a bit nervous and bit tense
but we had some really good movement in the second
stay fourth and prosper
Liverpool took a step closer to securing fourth spot
in the Premiership with a straightforward 2-0 victory
over Middlesbrough at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
The watching Sven Goran Eriksson would have been
delighted to have seen English stars Michael Owen, Danny
Murphy and Emile Heskey play crucial roles in getting
the goals - the former earning a penalty and laying on
the second for his strike partner.
Owen had rocketed a low shot against a post in a first
half that saw both sides create chances, but a seven
minute period at the start of the second half wrapped up
victory for The Reds, and kept them ahead of Aston Villa
and Newcastle United as the race for a UEFA Champions
League place enters its final stages.
Mark Schwarzer had produced two solid saves to deny the
England number ten in the opening minutes after the
break, but was given no chance from a Danny Murphy
penalty after Owen was clumsily felled in the box by
Four minutes later and the game was all but wrapped up
when Owen cleverly touched the ball round a defender,
presumably for himself, but watched as second half
substitute Heskey gleefully swept home to double his
A thrilling first half had seen chances for both sides,
with Owen hitting a post but Joseph Desire Job
wastefully firing Boro's best chance too close to a
grateful Jerzy Dudek.
Gaizka Mendieta had indicated Boro's desire to keep the
game open, and his early free-kick had Dudek scrambling.
Job will be disappointed with his 12th minute effort,
the ball falling kindly for the striker in a central
area on the edge of the box, but his shot allowing Dudek
to make a smart stop.
Owen had an 13th minute effort crucially blocked by the
alert Ugo Ehiogu , but just 60 seconds later was even
more unfortunate when he bundled through a challenge but
saw his low shot across Mark Schwarzer smashing an
upright and rebounding to safety.
John Arne Riise fired narrowly wide, whilst Danny Murphy
saw a free-kick evade the wall but not the grasp of
The otherwise ineffective Harry Kewell did put the ball
in the net from a free-kick, only top be adjudged
offside and at the other end Chris Riggott flicked on a
curling cross, but could not shift the ball far enough
to either side of Dudek to cause a problem.
After suffering through the opening exchanges of the
second half and finding themselves two goal behind,
Middlesbrough gainfully tried to get a foothold in the
match - but aside from a Slizard Nemeth shot that had
Dudek leaping acrobatically across his goal to save
could produce little in the May sunshine.
Boro have had better days, but their fans are confident
for the future, whilst Liverpool's season is taking a
turn for the better - and England fans will be delighted
to see Owen beginning to get back on his game ahead of
the European Championships.