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  Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Owen hat-trick sinks Spartak
Michael Owen prods in his second goal to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead
Owen pounces to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead
Spartak Moscow 1-3 Liverpool

Michael Owen's predatory instincts came to Liverpool's rescue as his hat-trick earned a valuable Champions League victory in Moscow.

The England striker cancelled out Spartak's opener with a first-half header before adding two close-range strikes in the final 20 minutes.

It was Owen's second treble inside a month after his Premiership hat-trick at Manchester City and his ninth in total for the club.

But it was a far from vintage performance by Gerard Houllier's side, who struggled to find any fluency in the freezing conditions.

  Key incidents
20 mins: Baros misses two good chances
23mins: Danishevski puts Spartak ahead
29 mins: Owen heads the equaliser
62 mins: Dudek saves from Danishevski
70 mins: Owen prods Liverpool in front
90 mins: Owen completes hat-trick

Owen's first Champions League goals in a year put the Premiership leaders on track to claim one of the two qualifying places in Group B, behind leaders Valencia.

This was Liverpool's first away victory in the competition for seven matches, dating back to last October's win against Dynamo Kiev.

But Spartak, woeful in a 5-0 thrashing at Anfield three weeks ago, were a vast improvement in front of their own fans despite a paltry 5,000 in attendance.

The soon-to-be-deposed Russian champions started brightly without finding an end product, Vladimir Beschastnykh sending a fizzing drive wide.

Liverpool, despite their sluggish start, should have gone in front when Milan Baros was twice presented with golden opportunities.

First Baros saw Spartak keeper Maxim Levitsky pull off a remarkable save from point-blank range after finding himself five yards out with a clear sight of goal.

Spartak players celebrate their first Champions League goal this year
Spartak players celebrate their first Champions League goal this year

Moments later the Czech striker pulled his shot wide from Owen's left-wing cross.

His profligacy looked to be costly when Spartak took the lead in the 23rd minute.

Emile Heskey, returning to the Liverpool side on the left side of midfield, made a hash of his defensive duties when he headed straight to Olexandr Pavlenko inside the Liverpool area.

Pavlenko's short pass was drilled home emphatically by 18-year-old striker Alexsandr Danishevski, who gave Jerzy Dudek no chance from 12 yards.

But Liverpool found a prompt response to the setback and were soon level.

Jamie Carragher cantered purposefully down the right flank and his cross found the alert Owen, who expertly directed a downward header into the far corner.

Struggled

Heskey headed a good opportunity over the bar five minutes before the interval, and was substituted early in the second half.

Liverpool continued to struggled with their passing on the resumption, although Owen was sent clear on goal only to be denied by the recovering Valeri Abramidze.

The visitors were grateful for Dudek's agility when the keeper beat away Danishevski's close-range volley after another penetrating cross from Pavlenko.

But Owen pounced after 70 minutes when Sami Hyypia's initial header from a corner was saved and then his follow-up cleared off the line.

The striker ended any lingering anxiety in the final minute when he appeared at the far post to meet Murphy's precise cross.


Spartak Moscow: Levitsky, Kovtun (Kebe 36), Mitreski (Kudriashov 82), Abramidze, Khlestov, Beschastnykh, Pavlenko, Bezrodny, Danishevsky, Sonin (Torbinsky 60), Kalinichenko.
Subs Not Used: Cherchessov, Tchuisse, Da Silva, Essien. Booked: Kalinichenko, Pavlenko.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Diao, Heskey (Vignal 56), Owen, Baros (Diouf 70), Vignal (Biscan 76).
Subs Not Used: Arphexad, Babbel, Smicer, Mellor.

Attendance: 15,000

Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's John Murray
"Michael Owen is still top dog on Merseyside"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"It was a great team performance"
Liverpool's Sami Hyypia
"Hopefully Michael will continue that form"

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22 Oct 02 | Football
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