By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Steven Gerrard has revealed why he was determined to
share the joy of his crucial opening goal against Levski
Sofia with manager Gerard Houllier.
Anfield skipper raced towards the dug-out to embrace
Gerard Houllier after blasting his side into the lead
against Levski Sofia.
Gerrard said the public show of support for the manager
was a reaction to the criticism Houllier has suffered
since last weekend's FA Cup exit.
"I wanted to dedicate that goal to Gerard Houllier and
all my team-mates," said Gerrard.
"The manager has had a hard time this week so it was
nice to get a goal and good result for him.
"As soon as I scored I turned to the bench and I saw how
excited he was. It was just a natural reaction for me to
share the moment with him.
"We knew after the Portsmouth result what was going to
happen with the fans and the press having a go at us,
although we didn't expect it to go as far as it did with
the incident at Melwood this week.
"I think that kind of thing made all of the lads and the
fans pull together even more.
"To be honest, the fans were right to be upset with us
for the way we went out of the FA Cup. Last night they
were brilliant. It was exactly what we needed.
"I think we responded by putting in a much better
performance, particularly in the second half."
It has been a momentous week for the Liverpool skipper,
who added: "It's been a good few days for me on a
personal level having become a father for the first
"Obviously I'd also like to dedicate my goal last night
to my family."
thanks fans for support
By Matt Ladson - This is Anfield
Under pressure Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier praised
the Anfield crowd after his team defeated Levski Sofia
2-0 in the UEFA Cup.
Despite recent domestic troubles a full house turned out
at Anfield and gave the team the backing they needed,
with several renditions of You'll Never Walk Alone being
passionately sung as Houllier's team defeated their
"I must praise the fans for their support, it
contributed to our success, they were part of it," said
the Frenchman. "After the game it was something the
players were commenting on in the dressing room, they
He said "I was moved by the fans singing my name, it has
not been an easy time for anyone. But I say again,
Gerard Houllier is not important in all this, whoever is
leading the team the fans must be behind the side."
"It has not been easy for me, yes, and it has been a
difficult year with injuries. But we are still in with a
good chance of finishing fourth and we are still in the
"I was pleased when Steven Gerrard ran straight to the
bench, and to me, after he had scored. He wanted to
share that goal with us all. He has just become a
father, so the goal was dedicated to his girlfriend Alex
and baby Lilli.
"As for the team, they have also been under pressure but
they went out to prove something and produce a
"To their credit they have kept their heads up in a
difficult time. It has not been nice for anyone, and
some of the stuff written has been unfair. But when
Stevie ran to the bench, it showed there is something
special between the players and the staff."
Reds Please Houllier
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier hailed a
“professional” performance from his team as they took a
commanding 2-0 lead in their UEFA Cup third-round tie
against Levski Sofia.
The Bulgarian side defended in numbers but Steven
Gerrard made the breakthrough in the 67th minute with a
sweetly-struck drive and Harry Kewell curled in a
spectacular second three minutes later to put them in a
good position for the away leg and ease some of the
pressure on Houllier.
The UEFA Cup represents the Reds’ last chance of
silverware this season and the French manager was
pleased and relieved in equal measure.
He told five: “It was a good win. We got a clean sheet
which is very important when you play in a competition
with two legs and you are playing the first game at
“The first game is the most important because it puts
you in a position to qualify. We had a very professional
job to do and we did it well.
“I want to congratulate all the players; it’s not easy
to beat a team who put 10 men behind the ball. It is a
matter of patience and movement and you have to take
your chance from long range. I told them the chance
would come and it came.”
Liverpool take control
BBC Sport Online
Steven Gerrard's volley and Harry Kewell's wonderful
shot inspired Liverpool to victory over Levski Sofia in
the Uefa Cup
third round first leg.
The Levski defence stifled Liverpool in the opening
period, but Gerrard's vicious volley gave the 2001 Uefa
Cup winners the lead in the second half.
Three minutes later Kewell added a second when he
unleashed a curling shot that dipped over Dimitar
Milan Baros impressed in attack, but Michael Owen missed
Out of both domestic cups and chasing Newcastle and
Charlton in the Premiership for a Champions League spot,
Liverpool stuttered in a disappointing opening half.
Passes went astray and Owen, who was deployed behind
Baros in the first half, struggled to get into the game.
After the restart Owen moved further forward and
immediately tested Ivankov, first with a header and then
when the Levski goalkeeper had to rush out to prevent
the Liverpool striker collecting Dietmar Hamann's pass.
Owen was also quick to latch on to a deflection, though
Ivankov again safely gathered the Liverpool striker's
Midway through the second half two moments of
inspiration turned the game Liverpool's way.
First Gerrard despatched a volley past Ivankov and then
Kewell scored an even better goal with a superlative
shot from the edge of the box.
Playing his first full game since September, Baros was
Liverpool's most potent threat in that muted first-half
with his speed and enthusiasm constantly troubling
He produced a dangerous run only to delay his pass to
Danny Murphy and had a reasonable claim for a penalty
rejected after Ilian Stoyanov's scything tackle.
Later in the half Stoyanov, looking to shield the ball
out of play, sent Baros crashing into the advertising
Liverpool's Czech Republic international striker also
went close with a header after Murphy's corner.
Having gathered a head of steam, Liverpool suddenly went
off the boil allowing Levski to come back into the game,
and Konstantin Golovskoy went close with a deflected
Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland also had to be alert
to deal with Kostadin Vidolov's low shot soon just after