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BBC Sport's Nick Mullins
"Owen shimmied with deadly intent all game."
 real 14k

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"We must not ease up"
 real 56k

Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"We had sleepy defenders"
 real 56k

Saturday, 5 May, 2001, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Liverpool too strong for Newcastle
Michael Owen
Owen's second eased Liverpool nerves
Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle

Michael Owen claimed a hat-trick to continue his impressive scoring run against Newcastle and lead Liverpool to a comfortable victory.

The win further improves the Anfield side's Champions League aspirations, especially with rivals Leeds losing at Arsenal.

The lively Owen opened his account midway through the first half when he slotted home after Markus Babbel's through ball.


With that squad Gerard Houllier will push Manchester United for the title next season and maybe he will buy a couple more
  Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
It was his 10th goal in six games against the Magpies.

He added another in the 68th minute to ease growing Liverpool nerves before completing his triple show after a pass from substitute striker Robbie Fowler.

Liverpool now remain in third place in the Premiership after their fifth successive league win, with two games left to play against Chelsea and Charlton.

  Key moments
1min: Owen through on goal but Given saves with his legs
12min: Heskey heads wide from McAllister's free-kick
27min: Owen converts Babbel's pass for Liverpool's opener
32min: The unmarked Dabizas heads over from a corner
44min: Given gifts McAllister possesion and then saves resultant shot
56min: Henchoz clears off line from a Solano header
58min: Solano shoots wide
68min: Owen converts Berger's pass for his second
84min: Owen completes his hat-trick after Fowler's cross-field pass

Gerard Houllier's side also have upcoming FA and Uefa Cup final appearances to consider - but their minds were firmly focused against Newcastle.

With history already stacked in Liverpool's favour before the game, courtesy of six consecutive top-flight wins against their opponents at Anfield, they consolidated on that record.

But the home side did have to endure some anxious moments with Newcastle threatening to equalise shortly after the interval.

The visitors' Peruvian international Nolberto Solano saw a header cleared off the line by Stephane Henchoz and then fired wide from a promising position with a shot across goal.

Gary McAllister could have eased Liverpool's nerves just prior to half-time when visiting goalkeeper Shay Given's error gifted him with a shot on goal.

But the midfielder's recent goalscoring exploits failed to continue with his shot being saved by Given.

It was left to Owen to calm any Liverpool anxiety when he added his second of the game.

He confidently beat Given following substitute Patrik Berger's slide rule pass.

Lethal

Newcastle had received a warning of Owen's intent when strike partner Emile Heskey's pass after barely a minute gave him a clear run and sight of goal.

His effort was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Shay Given before the two teams engaged in an open match with Liverpool the dominant party.

Aaron Hughes headed over for Newcastle from long range before Heskey and Owen also missed with headers at the other end.


We know what the objective is and now we have what is really another cup final against Chelsea, and with our goal difference, a win there should clinch third spot
  Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
But Owen was not to be denied and struck shortly afterwards for the opening goal.

Newcastle did have rare chances and Nikos Dabizas should have done better than to head over when he latched onto a corner.

In contrast, Owen was proving lethal in front of goal and when he received Fowler's diagonal ball late on, he shot across goal to round off an ultimately convincing Liverpool victory.


Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Gerrard, McAllister, Hamann, Smicer, Heskey, Owen. Subs: Ziege, Fowler, Murphy, Berger, Arphexad.

Newcastle: Given, Barton, Dabizas, Hughes, O'Brien, Quinn, Speed, Acuna, Solano, Cort, Gallacher. Subs: Bassedas, Harper, Lua-Lua, Ameobi, Stephen Caldwell.

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)

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