After The Match 

            


BIRMINGHAM-LIVERPOOL 0-3 (0-1)          Sat May 8.        Premier League
Goals: Owen (28), Heskey (51), Gerrard (85)
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Gerrard, Hamann, Kewell, Owen, Heskey
Subs:
Not used: Luzi, Biscan, Cheyrou, Baros, Pongolle
Yellow: Johnson (55), Cisse (67)
Red: Cunningham (64)
Referee: Steve Dunn
Attendance:

                                                             FIXTURES & RESULTS
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 2-8
Shots off target: 1-7
Fouls conceded: 11-12
Corners: 3-5
Yellow: 2-0
Red:

 

 

1-0

HEADLINES

"This was one of
the best performances we've had this season."

                Gerard Houllier

1005: G-Owen all out for win
1005: You can't fault Liverpool timing
1005: Houllier: We're now easing Gerrard burden
0805: GH: We will qualify for Champions League
0805: Gerrard hails clinical performance
0805: Houllier mum on Heskey future
0805: Heskey stars in Liverpool victory

 

MAY 10
G-Owen all out for win

By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo

Michael Owen today insisted Liverpool must not play for a draw against Newcastle this weekend - even though a point will secure a place in the Champions League qualifiers.

Owen says the club must learn from their bitter experiences of the past and go all out for victory against the Geordies.

Next Saturday's fixture will be academic if Newcastle fail to beat Southampton on Wednesday.

But if Bobby Robson's men do win at St Mary's, Liverpool will need just a point at Anfield.

Owen is urging the club not to presume the race is over.

"Even if we only need a draw, we've got to approach the match looking for the win. We all know what can happen otherwise," said Owen today.

"I've been involved in many games when a draw was all we needed and we came unstuck. I remember winning 2-0 in Rome in the UEFA Cup, coming back to Anfield and thinking it would be easy and then we lost 1-0 and could have been in trouble.

"I've been in enough situations on the last day now where we've failed to qualify when a point would have been enough. I played against Bradford a few years back when we were favourites to win and then there was the disappointment of Chelsea last season. I don't want to have to go through that again.

"I know the feeling of disappointment and so do plenty of the other lads. At least this time we'll be in front of our own crowd, which will help.

"We have to guard against going into the game with a different mindset now just because a point will be enough.

"We'll be watching the Newcastle versus Southampton game this week hoping for another favour. It's not an easy place for Newcastle to go.

"I'm still thinking we will need a result against Newcastle, even if it's only a draw. But we're in good form now, having beaten Manchester United, Middlesbrough and now Birmingham.

"We'll be going into the game with a lot of confidence."

Owen echoed the view of manager Gerard Houllier in describing the 3-0 win on Saturday as the best away from home performance of the campaign.

He said: "I thought we played really well. Birmingham going down to 10 men helped, but even when they had 11 I felt we were in control. It was as well as we've played away from home this season.

"We've had some good results away from home, but none as convincing as that. In games like that you can't pick a man-of-the-match because everyone played really well and that's what made us so effective.

"It was also pleasing to get back on the scoresheet. I've been knocking on the door in the last few games and felt my form was coming back."


MAY 10
You can't fault Liverpool timing

By Andy Proudfoot - Daily Post

For all their faults, you can't criticise this team for bad timing.

For once they took the chance offered by Villa's stumble at Southampton and turned in what was for me their best performance of the season to place one foot firmly in next season's Champions League.

Never mind the 'yeah, but' forming in your vocal chords, it would be churlish in the extreme not to acknowledge an exhibition that contained many of the features so conspicuous by their absence this season.

Disciplined, composed and efficient in the first half, expansive and inventive in the second. It was a wel-come change from the dross we've had to bear.

Steven Gerrard was absolutely magnificent, irresistible in his surges forward which brought two goals and provoked a sending-off for Cunningham.

Jamie Carragher might yet save us some money if he can build on this terrific performance at centre-back, and it was good to see Michael Owen looking sharp and mobile up front.

I've still to work out which Emile Heskey is the most frustrating: the penalty-box phobic with the fertiliser burns on his shorts, or the dangerous, mobile forward we saw on Saturday.

The former makes you pine for Eric Meijer, the latter mourn the unfulfilled potential which sadly may need to try its luck elsewhere next season. So this most disappointing season (now there's an understatement) may yet end on an upbeat note.

Perhaps this will bring a little perspective to those misguided souls bombarding 606 and other phone-ins with melodramatic calls for boycotts and demonstrations against the manager and the board.

Though major change is needed, we are after all fourth from top, not fourth from bottom.


MAY 10
Houllier: We're now easing Gerrard burden

By Ian Doyle - Daily Post

Gerard Houllier has insisted Liverpool are now easing the burden on Steven Gerrard as his side moved to within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Liverpool were comprehensive 3-0 winners over Birmingham City at the weekend to consolidate fourth place in the Premiership as their main rivals slipped up.

Aston Villa's 1-1 draw at Southampton means, barring some improbable final-day results, the Midlanders cannot finish above Liverpool, ensuring Houllier's side European qualification next season in the UEFA Cup at least.

And after yesterday's similar stalemate with Wolves, Newcastle United must win at Southampton on Wednesday to keep their Champions League hopes alive going into the last-day showdown at Anfield on Saturday. Even then, a draw next weekend would be good enough for Liverpool to finish fourth.

Saturday's success at St Andrews was bolstered by yet another man-of-the-match display from Gerrard, who scored the third goal, created the second and forced Kenny Cunningham into making the tackle which saw the Birmingham skipper sent off midway through the second half.

But while praising his captain's contribution, Liverpool manager Houllier was quick to share the plaudits throughout his team following his team's "best away performance this season".

"Steven Gerrard thoroughly deserved his man of the match award," said the Frenchman. "He was tremendous and deserved his goal, but I don't want to highlight just one player because it was a very good team performance.

"Steven is doing a good job for us, but we don't want to only rely on him."

Houllier continued: "We have leaders in the team. In the midfield, he can have a bit more freedom because of the way we are organised now. It allows him to play more.

I want to praise the team and every individual player who was out on the park. This was one of the best performances we've had this season, and the best away performance. It's not an easy ground to come but we showed strength, solidity and creativity."

Houllier refused to be drawn on speculation surrounding Emile Heskey and a move to Birmingham, instead choosing to hail the England international and strike partner Michael Owen after the duo both also found the target.

"Michael and Emile were outstanding," said the Frenchman, who still expects Owen to be a Liverpool player next season.

"They worked so hard and really played well, and they have a good partnership. At 0-0 Michael was coming back to tackle and win the ball and it was a great effort with everyone working for each other.

"Emile had a fantastic game, a typical Emile Heskey performance I would say. It's too early to start talking about his future, but all I know is he has scored two in two but it's

not only his goals as he worked hard and gave his all for the club."

Houllier added: "I've got every confidence we will qualify for the Champions League and I firmly believe that. I'm so pleased and proud of my players, it's in our own hands and we will give everything it is possible to give to ensure it.

"I enjoyed the way we played and we had a lot of composure and great discipline. I said to the team in my teamtalk not to worry about other teams and other results as we had two cup finals to play and it's in our own hands."


MAY 8
GH: We will qualify for Champions League

BY Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

A defiant Gerard Houllier firmly believes Liverpool will qualify for the Champions League after seeing his side turn in one of their best performances of the season to win 3-0 at Birmingham.

Liverpool have now qualified for at least the UEFA Cup following Aston Villa's 1-1 draw at Southampton but Houllier says his players desperately want Champions League and says Liverpool will do it.

Houllier said: "I've got every confidence we will qualify for the Champions League and I firmly believe that. I'm so pleased and proud of my players, it's in our own hands and we will give everything it is possible to give to ensure it.

"I want to praise the team and every individual player who was out on the park. This was one of the best performances we've had this season. It's not an easy ground to come but we showed strength, solidity and creativity.

"I enjoyed the way we played and we had a lot of composure and great discipline. I said to the team in my team talk not to worry about other teams and other results as we had two cup finals to play and it's in our own hands.

"Birmingham didn't have a lot of chances and we had the height at the back to deal with their long balls, and it was a deserved win. As I say it was a great team performance but Steven Gerrard thoroughly deserved his man of the match award.

"I must also praise Michael Owen and Emile Heskey who were magnificent leading the line for us."


MAY 8
Gerrard hails clinical performance

Soccer Weekend

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard praised his teammates for delivering the goods in a comprehensive 3-0 win against Birmingham at St Andrews on Saturday.

The Reds took a firm grip on fourth spot and Champions League qualification as goals from Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and the skipper himself put them three points clear from Aston Villa and Newcastle.

Gerrard, who was at his influential best, believes the game was their biggest of the season.

"It was a massive game for us today, we are at home next week so we fancy our chances there," he told Sky Sports. "We feel this was our most important game of the season.

"It was a great team performance, we knew it was going to be hard. Steve Bruce has done a fantastic job this season. We've created chances, but I think the manager will be more happy with the clean sheet."

Heskey, playing as well as he had for a while, echoed his captain's sentiments.

"We knew it was going to be tough, they are a great side," he said. "We knew it was going to be hard, having played here last season and being beaten."


MAY 8
Houllier mum on Heskey future

Soccer Weekend

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier has refused to be drawn into discussing Emile Heskey's future.

The England international played a staring role in the Reds 3-0 win over Birmingham - one of his potential suitors.

Blues boss Steve Bruce had already confirmed his interest in the burly striker, but Houllier doesn't feel the time is right to talk about the player's future.

"Knowing the speculation around him I would say he is grown up enough to put that aside and focus on his game," was all the Frenchman was prepared to say.

"Everybody knows I would like to keep him, but I don't think this is the time to talk about players' futures."

Heskey, who scored Liverpool's second goal after setting up the first, wasn't too forthcoming either.

"I'm still here and I will keep playing for Liverpool unless told otherwise."

When asked about a possible move for the former Leicester man, Bruce replied: "It's never been my way of talking about anybody's players. I think it's hugely disrespectful.

"When the time is right I will come out and tell you. At the moment he's a Liverpool player. He is one of the players we are interested in."


MAY 8
Heskey stars in Liverpool victory

By Patrick Gross - Sky Sports

A superb display by Emile Heskey helped Liverpool to a 3-0 win against Birmingham City that hands The Reds a major advantage in the race for fourth place in the Premiership.

Heskey laid on the first for Michael Owen before slotting home himself to seal victory for Liverpool at St Andrews - and showcase his talents ahead of the European Championships in the summer.

Compatriot Steve Gerrard looked at his awesome best and he added a third on 85 to cap a scintillating display with a deserved goal.

The powerful striker had started poorly, hedging his bets between a cross and shot and achieving neither with Owen poised to finish.

However, after Owen had overrun a second good chance to open the scoring, Heskey's through ball set the England international scampering through.

Under pressure from Kenny Cunningham, and with goalkeeper Ian Bennett racing out, Owen calmly rolled the ball into the far corner with the outside of his right foot to give the hosts a deserved lead.

Birmingham have suffered a major dip of form of late, and looked unlikely to forge a way back into the game - and when Heskey added a second at the beginning of the second half - it left Steve Bruce's men with a monumental task.

Gerrard - registering another driving performance that will warm English hearts ahead of 2004 - was the architect, powering down the right and cutting back.

Heskey had the narrowest of angles to aim at, but when given little time the former Leicester man can show an astute instinct and his finish was top quality.

A monumental task soon became an impossible one, when Cunningham received his marching orders for a professional foul on Gerrard.

The midfielder showed the greater desire to drive onto a loose ball past the defender, and when minor contact felled Gerrard, referee Steve Dunn did not hesitate in showing a red card.

Heskey nearly added a second to his personal tally when he latched onto a cutback from Michael Owen, and the diminutive striker also missed a glorious opportunity when played in by Gerrard.

Owen was played in superbly by his captain, but opted to round keeper Bennett and his first touch, not for the first time, was heavy and allowed defenders back to cover.

Harry Kewell drove wide when he could have opted to pass, but Gerrard finally did extend the lead when he again broke down the left and cut back across the penalty area before picking out the far corner to show how important he is to the Liverpool challenge.

There was still time for Owen to waste a glorious chance to make the score more emphatic, but it mattered little to the delighted travelling fans.

Liverpool are now three points clear of Aston Villa in fifth - although Newcastle United have two games in hand and could go level to make the final week's clash against The Reds a classic six pointer.


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Thor Zakariassen