After The Match


Vitesse Arnhem-Liverpool     




UEFA Cup - 3rd round, 1st leg               Thursday Nov 28th           Kick-off: 20.45cet

Result: 0-1 (0-1)
Goals: Owen (27)
LFC Team:

Babbel  Hyypia  Henchoz  Traore
Murphy  Gerrard  Diao  Cheyrou
Owen  Baros

Subs: Smicer (Cheyrou 9), Heskey (Baros 73)
Not used: Kirkland, Biscan, Diouf, Carragher, Welsh
Booked: Diao (21)            Frankel (35), Amoah (45)
Sent off: None
Referee: Mejuto Gonzales (Spain)


On target:
Off target:
Yellow cards:
Red cards:  

Houllier: Win was just what we needed


Gerard Houllier breathed a sigh of relief after Michael Owen's record-breaking goal ended Liverpool's worst run for two years.

Owen's first-half strike against Vitesse Arnhem was his 15th away goal in Europe for the club and meant the Reds will take a slender 1-0 lead back to Anfield for the second leg of this Uefa Cup third-round tie.

Houllier had presided over four games without a win before this result, and he said: "I'm very, very happy with the result.

"When you are going through the sort of patch we have been in you need results like this to rebuild confidence.

"This sort of performance will work in our favour in the games ahead. We had gone four without a win and it was good to see the side back on the right winning track again.

"I want to emphasise just how much effort the players put in, they were all prepared to go that extra bit for the team. It may not have been a flowing performance, but we won and that's all that matters at times like this.

"Considering the adversity we have suffered, a win away from home in Europe will do much to build our confidence.

"And it could easily have been three or four, the number of chances we had. Michael Owen could have gone home with the match ball on another occasion had he not found their keeper in such good form."

Houllier, whose side take on Manchester United on Sunday, added: "The players showed resilience, commitment and a great attitude.

"But we can't get carried away; the cliche is that it's only half-time and we are very aware of that.

"Arnhem are a good side, they put Werder Bremen out in the last round and they (Bremen) are among the top sides in the current German league. Vitesse showed skill and they have shown they can produce it in away games successfully in Europe."

Owen seals Liverpool win

By Paul Walker - PA Sport, Arnhem

Michael Owen's first-half goal gave Liverpool an away victory in the UEFA Cup third round, first leg in Holland.

But the England striker missed three other gilt-edged chances when clean through which would have given Liverpool a comfortable lead.

Instead they were on the backfoot for most of the game as they looked to cure themselves of a Champions League hangover.

Manager Gerard Houllier rested several players ahead of Sunday's showdown with Manchester United as his side ventured reluctantly into the UEFA Cup third round.

Out went Dietmar Hamann, Emile Heskey, Jamie Carragher and John Arne Riise - and only the latter could consider he was suffering because of poor form.

The surprise was Stephane Henchoz returning in central defence after just 45 minutes' action in eight weeks following his calf operation.

Bruno Cheyrou and Salif Diao were given their chances in midfield while Milan Baros partnered Owen up front, a reward for six goals in 15 appearances this season, mostly from the bench.

The futuristic Gelredome, a half-size version of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, complete with roof, removable pitch and 30,000 seats, rocked with noise with Liverpool probably the biggest draw here since U2 and Britney Spears filled the venue for concerts.

Vitesse included 19-year-old Dutch youth international Theo Janssen, who is likely to be the next big sale from the club.

The home side had Liverpool pinned back in the early stages. Markus Babbel struggled early on, giving the ball away, while Henchoz was instantly forced into a string of challenges and the Anfield men looked unsettled to say the least.

Then on eight minutes Cheyrou limped off the pitch with what looked like a hamstring injury, and Vladimir Smicer was sent into the fray.

Liverpool's midfield looked unbalanced. Steven Gerrard, making his first start since being publicly rebuked by Houllier, was operating on the right with Smicer playing in an advanced role. It left a gaping hole in front of Diao, who had acres of space to cope with.

Baros' sliced header from Murphy's corner was the nearest Liverpool came to scoring in the opening exchanges.

Murphy drilled a 17th-minute free-kick straight into the wall but Arnhem's defence - marshalled by former Sheffield Wednesday man Dejan Stefanovic - were coping well against Owen and Baros.

Gerrard showed something of his former self with a surging run at the heart of the home defence before being bundled down by Evgeniy Levchenko. It may have warranted a booking but Spanish referee Mejuto Gonzales did not get his yellow card out until the 22nd minute when Diao brought down Gert Claessens.

After 32 minutes Liverpool struck with a goal of real class. Smicer bravely won possession in midfield, Gerrard found Owen who pushed the ball back to his England team-mate and scuttled off towards the box.

Gerrard's ball in was controlled and shielded expertly by Baros, who then rolled the ball into Owen's path for the striker to coolly slot home from eight yards.

It could have been two after 34 minutes when another accomplished passing move ended with Owen retrieving the ball from the byline, tricking Tim Cornelisse and laying the ball back for Murphy to fire over from 12 yards.

A minute later Murphy stole in as a free-kick dropped into the box and sent a neat looping header agonisingly onto the roof of the net.

Vitesse were now the side looking troubled and Purrel Frankel was booked for cutting down Gerrard after 35 minutes. Liverpool were exposing Vitesse, and from another move involving Owen, Baros and Murphy, Gerrard powered a 25-yard dipping shot over the crossbar.

Sami Hyypia received a nasty kick in the face from Matthew Amoah's boot, and it was a relief for Liverpool fans to see him emerge from the dressing room for the second half.

Just as in the first half, Vitesse started the second period quicker to the ball. One lofted cross into the box forced Djimi Traore into a high, looping header which Jerzy Dudek had to pull down from beneath his own bar.

Owen could have given Liverpool some breathing space when he broke into the box from the right, but Jevric smothered his 59th-minute shot.

However, Vitesse were getting closer to an equaliser, with Frankel and Emile Mbamba both getting clear shooting chances but failing to hit the target.

Then Claessens had a close-range stab, but the shot was deflected enough for Dudek to claim the ball.

Henchoz had to hurl himself at Cornelisse's low cross after a flowing move by the home side.

Liverpool broke in the 66th minute and again Owen should have scored. Baros got away and found the England striker racing through the middle.

Jevric saved his first effort but could only sit on the ground and pray as Owen's follow-up effort crept an inch wide of an open goal.

It got worse for Owen after 68 minutes when he was through on goal again - but saw Jevric save again. In the ensuing scramble Gerrard's chip towards an empty net was headed away by Stefanovic.

Claessens headed over from Rahamat Mustapha's cross and the game was on a knife-edge with Liverpool escaping on the break but Vitesse searching for the equaliser.

Heskey came on for Baros after 74 minutes, with the home side throwing on Kalle Sone and Eldridge Rojer for Frankel and Mbamba three minutes later.

Eight minutes from time Liverpool somehow survived when Mustapha hit the post and Sone found himself with an open net to roll the ball into - but somehow contrived to miss from six yards.

Dudek made another excellent save from Claessens from close range in injury-time as Liverpool held on to their slim first-leg advantage.

Thor Zakariassen