After The Match 


LIVERPOOL-LEVSKI SOFIA 2-0 (0-0)   Thursday Feb 26.  UEFA Cup 3.r-1.l
Goals: Gerrard (66), Kewell (70)
Team: Kirkland, Finnan, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Hamann, Gerrard, Murphy, Kewell, Owen, Baros
Subs: Diouf (Kewell 85), Cheyrou (Baros 89)
Not used: Dudek, Biscan, Welsh, Traore, Le Tallec
Yellow: Golovskoy, Markov, Borimirov
Red: None
Referee: H Temmink (Holland)
Attendance: 39,149

                                                              FIXTURES & RESULTS
Shots on target: 7-1
Shots off target: 11-0
Fouls conceded: 9-15
Corners: 10-5
Yellow: 0-3





“I want
to congratulate
all the players..."

                  Gerard Houllier

2702: That was for Hou
2702: Houllier thanks fans for support
2602: Professional Reds please Houllier
2602: Liverpool take control

That was for Hou

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.

The 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 time.

"Obviously I'd also like to dedicate my goal last night to my family."

Houllier 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 Bulgarian opposition.

"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 appreciated it."

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 UEFA Cup.

"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 professional performance.

"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."

Professional 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 home.

“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 Ivankov.

Milan Baros impressed in attack, but Michael Owen missed several chances.

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 shot.

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 Levski.

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 hoardings.

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 shot.

Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland also had to be alert to deal with Kostadin Vidolov's low shot soon just after the restart.

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