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Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 22:33 GMT
Liverpool conquer brave Blades
El Hadji Diouf scores for Liverpool with a 20-yard shot after eight minutes
Diouf powers Liverpool ahead with a 20-yard shot
Liverpool 2-0 Sheff Utd
(After extra time - aggregate: 3-2)

Liverpool were taken to extra-time by Sheffield United before securing their place in the final of the Worthington Cup.

El Hadji Diouf put Liverpool ahead on the night and level on aggregate with a precision shot after nine minutes.

There was little evidence during the match of the acrimony leading up to the game and the Anfield outfit finally added a second in extra time.

Michael Owen was released by Steven Gerrard and he slotted past Blades keeper Paddy Kenny for the aggregate winner.

KEY MOMENTS
9 mins: Diouf powers Liverpool ahead
26: A Diouf shot hits the crossbar
107: Owen gets Liverpool's second

Liverpool made an aggressive start to the game and United dangerman Michael Tonge quickly felt the force of a clattering Jamie Carragher challenge.

Wayne Allison headed over from close range for the visitors and United paid the price for that miss when Diouf put Liverpool ahead.

Keeper Kenny could only parry an Owen shot, Heskey laid the rebound into the path of Diouf and he arrowed a shot into the bottom corner.

Diouf hit the crossbar with a mis-hit shot shortly afterwards, but United were defending stoutly and stopped Liverpool's attacks materialising into further goals.

The visitors almost levelled against the run of play only for Phil Jagielka to head agonisingly wide from a Wayne Quinn corner.

Nick Montgomery had to be stretchered off with an ankle injury for the Blades with forward Tommy Mooney coming on.

Heskey was just wide with a shot at the near post and, despite Liverpool's dominance, United went into the interval level 2-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool striker Emile Heskey and Sheffield United's Shaun Murphy
Heskey just rises above Murphy

Vladimir Smicer was too tentative in his attempts to touch the ball past the on-rushing Kenny after the break.

But United began to warm to their task at Anfield and midfielder Michael Brown had keeper Chris Kirkland back-tracking to tip over an attempted cross.

Liverpool saw off a spell of United pressure and Gerrard thought he had scored with a close range effort only for Quinn to get in a vital deflection.

Danny Murphy headed narrowly wide for the home team while Kirkland was fortunate to escape with a yellow card when he handled outside of the area.

From the resultant free-kick, Mooney's powerful 89th minute effort was deflected wide in a tense finish before extra-time.

Owen hit the outside of the post after 105 minutes.

But the England striker got on the scoresheet when he slotted past keeper Kenny after 107 minutes.


Liverpool: Kirkland, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Diouf, Murphy, Gerrard, Smicer (Cheyrou 95), Heskey, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Baros, Diao, Mellor.

Booked: Smicer, Kirkland.

Sheff Utd: Kenny, Jagielka, Murphy, Page, Quinn (Ten Heuvel 115), Montgomery (Mooney 45), Brown, McCall, Tonge, Ndlovu, Allison (Peschisolido 105).
Subs Not Used: Kozluk, de Vogt.

Booked: Quinn, Page.

Attendance: 43,837

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Alan Green
"Liverpool made life difficult for themselves"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"We've turned a corner after a difficult period"
Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock
"I think it's great we've ruffled a few feathers"

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