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Saturday, 20 April, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Liverpool relegate Derby
Owen opens the scoring for Liverpool
Liverpool 2-0 Derby County
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Michael Owen capped the perfect week by scoring twice to put Liverpool back on the Premiership summit, relegating Derby County in the process.

Owen scored Liverpool's winner at Sunderland last Saturday, hit the target on his first appearance as England captain against Paraguay on Wednesday - and there was still more to come.

The scene was set for his latest match-winning performance when he was presented with the European Footballer of the Year Award before kick-off.

We will have a major overhaul, it's a chance to wipe the slate clean and come back stronger,
Derby boss John Gregory
And the man who writes his own scripts obliged again when he scored in each half to keep Gerard Houllier's Liverpool right at the heart of the title dogfight.

It was all in sharp contrast to the dejection of Derby County boss John Gregory, who must now bow to the inevitable and plot a course for a Premiership comeback in the First Division next season.

Liverpool opened with the intent of a team that knew a victory would give them the psychological lift of a return to the top of the league.

Vladimir Smicer set the tone in the opening seconds when his through ball sent Danny Murphy and Nicolas Anelka through, but Derby goalkeeper Andy Oakes came to the rescue.

Oakes then had to dive brilliantly to his left to block a header from John Arne Riise with Smicer lurking.

But Oakes was powerless when Owen gave Liverpool the lead their early efforts merited after 16 minutes.

Carragher battles with Derby's Lee Morris
Murphy found Smicer, and once Owen had escaped his marker Chris Riggott, there was only one outcome as the Liverpool striker added to his season's tally.

Anelka thought he had doubled Liverpool's lead after 30 minutes when he rounded Oakes to score after taking a pass from Riise, but he was ruled offside.

Liverpool started the second half in similar fashion to the first, but on occasion Anelka's selfishness saw promising moves break down.

Murphy put Owen clear again on 49 minutes, but he was forced wide and the chance was lost.

And a minute later Anelka should have done better when he picked up a poor Derby clearance but blazed over the top.

The lads feel they can win their last three games and I agree with them
Liverpool manager
Gerard Houllier
Oakes was Derby's saviour again with an acrobatic save from Gerrard, and that was the signal for Liverpool boss Houllier to replace Anelka with Emile Heskey in a bid to find the second goal.

Liverpool were keeping Derby County at arm's length, but they had a major scare ten minutes from time.

Dudek's fumble almost let in Malcolm Christie, but the Polish goalkeeper made amends for his uncharacteristic error to scramble the ball to safety.

Owen, as ever, demanded the final say and he scored in emphatic fashion in the last minute when he latched on to Heskey's pass to round Oakes and score from an acute angle.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, Hamann, Murphy (Litmanen 89), Smicer (Berger 82), Anelka (Heskey 65), Owen.
Subs Not Used: Xavier, Kirkland.

Derby: Oakes, Barton, Riggott, Higginbotham, Jackson, Kinkladze, Lee, Boertien, Morris, Christie, Strupar.
Subs Not Used: Zavagno, Elliott, Foletti, Evatt, Bolder.

Attendance: 43,510

Referee: M Riley (Leeds).

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Another efficient Liverpool performance"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"I thought we were very professional"
Derby manager John Gregory
"We've got to get our act together in the Nationwide"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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