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  Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Liverpool gain upper hand
Michael Owen turns away from the Leverkusen defence
Michael Owen set up Liverpool's goal
Liverpool 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
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Liverpool edged a step closer to the semi-finals of the Champions League by defeating Bayer Leverkusen at Anfield.

Central defender Sami Hyypia scored the only goal of a tense, tight quarter-final first leg following excellent work by Michael Owen.

The visitors controlled possession for much of the game and were the better side in the second half, but could not find a way through Liverpool's solid rearguard.

  Key incidents
44 mins: Sami Hyypia scores from close range for Liverpool.
57 mins: Hans-Joerg Butt pulls off a brilliant one-handed save from John-Arne Riise.
67 mins: Michael Ballack misses from 12 yards for Leverkusen.
Gerard Houllier's side will now fancy their chances of going through to the last four, where they could face Manchester United.

The counter-attacking Reds are often more impressive on the road than at home and will relish the opportunity to defend their slender lead in Germany.

Liverpool were reluctant to commit numbers forward in the first half and rarely threatened.

Leverkusen, who were without influential defender Jens Nowotny through suspension, were impressively comfortable on the ball.

And in Brazilian winger Ze Roberto and German international Michael Ballack, they had two of the best players on show.

The boys behaved like heroes again tonight
Gerard Houllier
Liverpool manager
Liverpool started to step up through the gears towards the end of the half and Vladimir Smicer, playing in the hole behind the strikers, wasted an exellent opportunity.

He found himself unmarked at the far post when Steven Gerrard whipped in an excellent cross from the right, but headed high over the crossbar.

The miss did not prove too costly, as Liverpool took the lead just minutes later.

John Arne Riise's right-wing corner found Owen and the England striker squared across the face of goal for Hyypia to side-foot home.

The second half was altogether more exciting and urgent than the first.

We know what we have to do, we know we have the players to get a result at home
Klaus Toppmoller
Leverkusen coach
Riise almost extended Liverpool's lead with an acrobatic overhead kick from a corner, but Hans-Joerg Butt in the Leverkusen goal saved with one hand.

Yet the German side started to gain control as the half wore on.

The excellent Ballack had their best chance after 67 minutes. Ze Roberto picked his midfield partner out from the right, but Ballack struck wide from 12 yards.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Smicer, Owen, Heskey. Subs: Arphexad, Berger, Barmby, McAllister, Biscan, Wright, Litmanen.

Bayer Leverkusen: Butt, Sebescen, Lucio, Ramelow, Placente, Schneider, Ballack, Basturk, Ze Roberto, Neuville, Berbatov. Subs: Juric, Babic, Zivkovic, Kirsten, Dzaka, Burkhardt, Kleine.

Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden).

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"An excellent scoreline to take to Germany"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"I was pleased with how we handled the game"
Liverpool midfielder Vladimir Smicer
"They caused us a lot of problems"
Links to more Champions League stories are at the foot of the page.


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