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BBC Sport's Ian Brown reports from Anfield
"Liverpool were ruthless"
 real 14k

banner Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 22:01 GMT
Red-hot Liverpool steam through
Smicer (left) and Fowler started and finished the rout
Smicer (left) and Fowler started and finished the rout
Liverpool 5-0 Crystal Palace (Agg 6-2)

A blistering three-goal blast in the space of five first-half minutes sent Liverpool on their way to the Worthington Cup final at the expense of shell-shocked Palace.

Gerard Houllier's side, trailing 2-1 from the first leg at Selhurst Park, came out of the Anfield traps like a greyhound.

Within 18 minutes the game - and the tie - was over as Liverpool rattled in three goals.

  Key moments
13 mins - Smicer races clear to open the scoring
16 mins - Litmanen sets up Murphy for stunning volley
18 mins - Biscan makes it 3-0 with his first for the club
51 mins - Murphy bags his second to leave Palace reeling
83 mins - Kolinko sees red for a professional foul
88 mins - Fowler completes the rout as he nutmegs Gregg
Their start made a mockery of their finishing from the first leg, when Liverpool wasted a hatful of chances.

This time, Houllier's fired-up side seemed to score with every chance which came their way.

All three first-half goals had Premiership class stamped all over them.

Vladimir Smicer opened the floodgates on 13 minutes, outpacing Wayne Carlisle to run on to Robbie Fowler's threaded through ball and beat Alex Kolinko with a neat finish.

Vladimir Smicer
Smicer sprints clear to open the scoring

That levelled the aggregate scores, but within three minutes Liverpool were ahead for the first time in the tie.

Jari Litmanen swept in a left-foot cross and Danny Murphy let fly with a right-foot volley which left Kolinko with no chance.

Two minutes on, Liverpool capped their remarkable period of dominance with another stunning goal.

Fowler, revelling in his recall as captain, played a clever back-heel on the half-way line which split the Palace defence and sent Igor Biscan scampering clear.

We let our heads go down after the first goal but they were powerful and strong
  Palace boss Alan Smith
The Croatian needed no second invitation and slotted past the helpless Kolinko for his first goal for the club.

It could have been worse for Palace as Liverpool continued to pile forward.

Gary McAllister saw a rasping drive smash against the inside of a post and Litmanen's unselfish header into the path of Fowler failed to gift the captain the goal he craved.

Igor Biscan scores
Biscan fires in Liverpool's third goal at Anfield

Instead, it was left to Murphy to add to the Liverpool tally seven minutes into the second half.

Palace's beleagured defenders stepped forward in a bid to spring the offside trap but Murphy went alone and slotted home his second of the game.

The Anfield fans were in fine voice, but saved the biggest cheer for Palace striker Clinton Morrison.

The young striker had seen his post-match criticisms of Liverpool's first-leg wastefulness blown out of all proportion, but the Anfield faithful were not in forgiving mood.

There was a bit of passion tonight and I thought the first half was brilliant in terms of team play
  Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier

They booed him throughout and were delirious when Morrison completely missed his volley with a consolation strike at his mercy.

Poor Palace's gaping wounds had salts further ground in when Kolinko, in a bid to deny Fowler the goal he craved, hauled the striker down in full flight.

Referee Paul Durkin had no option but to show the red card and young substitute Gregg must have wished he could have stayed on the bench.

Gregg saved Murphy's resulting free kick from the edge of the area but was powerless to prevent Fowler from completing the script with the fifth goal late on.

Murphy played his captain through with a precise pass and Fowler joyfully swept a left-foot shot between the keeper's legs.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Gerrard, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Biscan, Murphy, Litmanen, McAllister, Fowler, Smicer. Subs: Nielsen, Ziege, Hamann, Barmby, Heskey.

Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Smith, Harrison, Austin, Thomson, Carlisle, Rubins, Rodger, Black, Forssell, Morrison. Subs: Gregg, Gray, Ruddock, Pollock, Kabba.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset)

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11 Jan 01 |  Worthington Cup
Houllier hits out at abysmal finishing
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