After The Match 


LIVERPOOL-PORTSMOUTH 3-0 (2-0)    Wed March 17.     Premier League
Goals: Hamann (6), Owen (28, 58)
Team: Dudek, Carragher, Biscan, Hyypiä, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Owen, Heskey
Subs: Cheyrou (Gerrard 73), Diouf (Kewell 80)
Not used: Luzi, Cheyrou, Baros
Yellow: Stefanovic (33)
Red: None
Referee: Barry Knight
Attendance: 34,663

                                                             FIXTURES & RESULTS
Shots on target: 13-4
Shots off target: 7-0
Fouls conceded: 9-20
Corners: 10-8
Yellow: 0-1





"Michael did not
only score goals
but he worked
tremendously hard."

                 Gerard Houllier

1803: Miles ahead, but no cigar
1803: Hamann: We may need eight more wins
1703: Houllier happy as Owen repays faith
1703: Owen double sinks Portsmouth


Miles ahead, but no cigar

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

This was one of those rare Anfield nights.

The kind of recently infrequent occasion when Gerard Houllier could have been forgiven for lounging back in the dug-out, lighting up a king-sized Cuban and cracking the kind of beaming smile Donny Osmond made his trademark.

Didi Hamann scored an early goal - and what a goal - the craved-for security of a second came just 20 minutes later, then talk of a Michael Owen (pictured) confidence crisis was swept away when England's best striker topped an excellent personal performance with a second goal.

While you would not have expected an Eric and Ernie-style song and dance from the boss, a post-match smile might have been anticipated.

But, no. Houllier seemed distracted, irked even.

Poor Shaka Hislop took one barbed comment. "He was man of the match again, which he wasn't against Arsenal," said the Reds boss, pointedly.

Then he reasserted the accepted wisdom that his side had been unfortunate against Southampton. "Paul Sturrock was honest enough to admit that, which is very rare," he added, "maybe Harry Redknapp will come in and say Portsmouth deserved to win."

Of course, he didn't. Portsmouth barely deserved to win a throw-in.

Maybe that explained the seeds of Houllier's frustration.

Liverpool's performance was not all that different from their Anfield FA Cup display a month ago. Nor was Portsmouth's.

But while Fred Dineage's favourite side somehow escaped with a draw that afternoon, last night they were summarily dispatched.

If the pattern is followed, Wolves, who escaped with a last-gasp draw at Molineux, will be just as comprehensively walloped and the Reds will again look likeliest for the fourth spot everyone seems reluctant to claim.

Of the sides chasing that prize, Liverpool look easily best equipped to achieve it.

They could even afford to 'rest' Milan Baros and Stephane Henchoz. But while Igor Biscan did enough to suggest Henchoz may have to cool his heels a little longer, Emile Heskey's efforts had Milan Baros chomping at the bit.

The explanation for recent lacklustre was that the Reds were 'leggy' after midweek exertions.

Last night's stroll should have helped, not hindered them.

A similar show on Saturday and we may even witness a smile again from their usually affable manager.

Hamann: We may need eight more wins

LFC Official Website

Dietmar Hamann reckons Liverpool may still need to win eight of their remaining matches to secure a place in next season's Champions League.

Liverpool have ten league games to play before the end of the season and the Reds' German midfielder believes as many as 24 points may be necessary to win the race for fourth place.

Speaking to following last night's comfortable victory over Portsmouth at Anfield, Hamann said: "It's hard to say what we need to do because the other teams are dropping points as well. We have hard games left, including trips to Old Trafford and Arsenal.

"With 30 points to play for I think we definitely need to get in the 20's. 20 points may be enough, but then we may need 24. We need to get at least six, seven or eight wins before the end of the season, starting against Wolves on Saturday."

Victory over Portsmouth last night was never in doubt as Liverpool turned in one of their best performances of the season to cruise to three precious points.

Hamann opened the scoring with a brilliant volley inside six minutes before Michael Owen ended his mini goal drought with a well taken double either side of the break.

"It was important to take advantage of our game in hand and win the three points tonight," said Hamann. "We're closer to the top four now as well.

"We played well from the start. We pressed them from the first whistle, created chances and scored three good goals.

"We wanted an early goal and it was great to see my volley go into the top corner. It's possibly the best goal I have scored for Liverpool and certainly one of the most important.

"Michael got the ball on the left and when he crossed it to me I connected with a perfect volley. There was no time for me to think about what I was going to do. I just took the shot in my stride and fortunately the ball ended up in the back of the net.

"It was also very important that Michael got onto the scoresheet. They were two fantastic finishes. He hasn'thad a great time of late but we know what he is capable of and those goals will give him a little boost for the rest of the season.

"We have never doubted him. Everyone at the club and in the city appreciates what he has done for us and how important he is. Strikers go through bad spells but hopefully he is over his now."

Houllier happy as Owen repays faith


Gerard Houllier praised Michael Owen (pictured) after the Liverpool striker hit back at the critics with two goals in the 3-0 defeat of Portsmouth.

Liverpool have moved into fifth, one point away from the coveted fourth spot which would earn them a crack at Champions League football.

Owen has now hit 14 goals in an injury-disrupted season for Liverpool - and the two against Pompey took his tally to five in the last nine games.

And Houllier said: "Michael is so special. He made one goal, scored two, and showed he is not only a star player he a great team player.

"Michael did not only score goals but he worked tremendously hard.

"The effort our front two put in to shut down defenders and win the ball back was hugely important. Defending starts at the front.

"In fact Michael did not have too many opportunities, but he scored two.

"His confidence will now improve - because goals do that to strikers."

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp was keen to defend Owen, who has suffered so much criticism of late.

Redknapp said: "You always expect Owen to score, he is a great player. People criticising him are so unfair because he is a top player.

"It did not help that they scored first, but if we had got one back even at 2-0 they would have got really edgy.

"But Owen's header finished us off, there was no coming back from that.

"We know it will be tough right to the end and I accept we must win five of our last ten to really have any chance of surviving."

Owen double sinks Portsmouth

BBC Sport Online

Liverpool revived their bid for a Champions League spot with a convincing victory over Portsmouth.

A stunning volley from Dietmar Hamann and two goals from Michael Owen lifted the Reds into fifth place, a point adrift of Charlton.

Owen tucked away his first from six yards before sealing a welcome return to form with a second-half header.

Emile Heskey might have made it four late on when he headed against a post, while Portsmouth offered little.

Liverpool, knowing victory was vital to keep pace with Charlton and Newcastle in the fight for fourth spot, got off to a flying start.

Owen, foraging effectively down the left, picked out Hamann on the edge of the area, who lashed home a stunning right-foot volley.

Owen might have scored himself 10 minutes later as he turned his marker and let fly from 25 yards, but Shaka Hislop was equal to the effort.

But for their goalkeeper, Portsmouth might have been 5-0 down by half-time.

Hislop reacted quickly to punch away a stinging drive from John Arne Riise after 16 minutes, then parried Harry Kewell's close-range effort.

He also palmed away a header from Igor Biscan as Liverpool threatened to put the match to bed before the interval.

As it was they were merely two goals to the good, Owen neatly controlling Jamie Carragher's cross in the 28th minute before tucking the ball into the far corner.

Liverpool's attacking verve was in stark contrast to Portsmouth, who were bereft of any confidence or belief.

Svetoslav Todorov, starting his first game of the season, dallied too long with their best chance of the first half, and was replaced at half-time by Matt Taylor.

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp also introduced Steve Stone for Alexei Smertin and the visitors rallied briefly.

Dejan Stefanovic hit the woodwork with a free kick before Lomana LuaLua missed a glorious chance from six yards out after 51 minutes.

Owen made him pay for his profligacy with his second before the hour, stealing ahead of his marker to head home Steven Gerrard's inswinging corner.

The England striker showed his renewed confidence with another effort across goal before teeing up Danny Murphy for a shot well saved by Hislop.

Heskey, restored to the starting line-up, directed a header against a post from Kewell's cross as Liverpool pressed for more goals late on.

Defeat left Portsmouth in the bottom three, still two points adrift of safety.

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