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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 13:27 GMT
Owen punishes Man Utd
Liverpool striker Michael Owen continues his excellent form with a double against Manchester United
Owen made Manchester United's defence suffer twice
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United

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Liverpool made it four wins on the trot against Manchester United with an impressive display at Anfield.

Michael Owen scored twice and John Arne Riise blasted in Liverpool's other goal from an unstoppable free-kick to inflict United's second consecutive Premiership defeat, following Bolton's win at Old Trafford.

David Beckham pulled one back as the visitors briefly threatened to make something of the match.

But another mistake by Fabien Barthez in the United goal allowed Liverpool to restore their advantage and run out worthy winners.

32 mins: Owen finishes clinically after a Brown error
39 mins: Riise thunders home an unstoppable free kick
49 mins: Beckham pulls one back for United with a left-foot shoot
51 mins: Owen restores Liverpool's advantage

Liverpool started like a team that clearly knew they had got the better of United on their previous three encounters.

Owen gave an early sign of his intent, dragging the ball wide of the United goal after losing his defenders on the edge of the area.

The England striker proved a constant threat to United's seventh central defensive pairing of the season so far - Wes Brown and Mikael Silvestre.

We lost two terrible goals and that has been endemic throughout the season
Sir Alex Ferguson
And it did not take long before a combination of United's frailties at the back and Owen's brilliance gave Liverpool the lead on the half-hour mark.

Brown failed to cut out Smicer's through ball, on which Heskey got the faintest of flicks, allowing Owen a clear view of goal.

The dimunitive forward made no mistake and beautifully guided the ball into the top left-hand of Barthez's goal.

United enjoyed the greater possession, but were unable to convert any of it into a telling attempt on the Liverpool goal.

Ruud van Nistelrooy threatened on a couple of occasions, yet Jerzy Dudek did not have one save to make in the first half.

Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy fails to get past Liverpool's Sami Hyypia
No way through for Van Nistelrooy

Another needless foul by Brown on Owen five minutes before the break paved the way for Riise's unstoppable thunderbolt free kick from 28 yards out.

Liverpool were in the ascendancy and their half-time lead was thoroughly deserved.

United needed an early breakthrough after the interval, and captain Beckham provided it.

He slotted home a left-foot shot after Liverpool had failed to clear their area.

It was unbelievable - I've never seen a shot hit so hard and so accurately
Owen on Riise's free kick
But any thoughts of a Spurs-like comeback were dashed moments later after another calamitous error by Barthez.

The warning signs had been there for United in the opening minutes of the match when Barthez failed to hold on to a cross.

And the French keeper was guilty of a similar mistake that allowed Owen to head in to an empty goal.

Liverpool could then afford the luxury of substituting two-goal hero Owen for Robbie Fowler.

In a final attempt to give United's attack some potency Sir Alex Ferguson brought on Paul Scholes for Beckham, who seemed to be nursing a leg injury.

The visitors pressed for a second, but could not find a way through a resolute Liverpool defence which preserved their side's two-goal advantage.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Gerrard, Hamann, Smicer, Owen, Heskey. Subs: Fowler, Redknapp, Berger, Kirkland, Wright.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, Irwin, Beckham, Butt, Veron, Fortune, van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer. Subs: Phil Neville, Carroll, Scholes, Yorke, O'Shea.

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Liverpool were clearly the better team"
Liverpool's assistant manager Phil Thompson
"The boys were absolutely outstanding"
Liverpool goal scorer Michael Owen
"Winning by two goals was very nice"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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