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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Owen sinks Man City
Michael Owen punishes poor defending with a clinical finish past Peter Schmeichel
Owen ends his goal drought in the fourth minute
Manchester City 0-3 Liverpool

Michael Owen silenced his Premiership critics with a clinical hat-trick as Liverpool shattered City's 12-month unbeaten home record.

Owen, without a goal in open play all season before this game, took just four minutes to set that record straight when he punished some comical defending by Kevin Keegan's maverick stars.

  Owen v Schmeichel
4 mins: Owen strikes from four yards after dreadful City defending
30 mins: 30 mins: Schmeichel rescues City with a smart save to deny Owen
64 mins: Owen sprints clear to beat Schmeichel for his second goal
89 mins: Owen shrugs off Jihai and clips a shot in off the woodwork
And a couple of vintage Owen finishes in the second half saw the striker emphatically demonstrate the truth behind Keegan's pre-match warning that his best was yet to come.

Yet most of the pre-match striker talk had been of Nicolas Anelka, the former Liverpool loanee who moved to Maine Road in a 13.5m summer deal.

Tales of the Frenchman's Anfield grudge shifted the spotlight away from Owen - and that suited the England striker just fine.


Michael Owen knew he had the 100% support of everyone at the club during his recent lean spell
Gerard Houllier
The pressure was fully released from his shoulders after just four minutes when Owen finally added to the solitary penalty strike he had managed so far this season.

City seemed to have been let off the hook when Sun Jihai's attempted back header fell straight to Owen, who was denied by an excellent block from Peter Schmeichel.

The home side, though, failed to heed the warning.

From the corner, more woeful defending saw City fail to clear a routine Danny Murphy corner - and Niclas Jensen's hacked clearance fell to Owen, who gleefully swept home from no more than four yards.

Manchester City's Niclas Jensen gets the better of Danny Murphy of Liverpool
Niclas Jensen (right) challenges Danny Murphy
With the shackles released, Owen might have doubled his tally before half-time.

But with City chasing shadows, Schmeichel rescued his defenders with another fine save after John Arne Riise had sent Owen clear with a fine crossfield ball.

Schmeichel also tipped over a Sammi Hyypia header from Riise's long throw as Liverpool dominated the first half.

Anelka was close to equalising with a stinging 25-yard drive which flew just wide with Jerzy Dudek seemingly beaten.

And Darren Huckerby had a penalty appeal turned down when his cross struck Jamie Carragher on the knee and flew onto his hand.

City had a glorious chance to get back on level terms early in the second half when Dudek fumbled Kevin Horlock's routine shot, only for Eyal Berkovic to pass the ball back to the keeper as he attempted to tee up Anelka.


We desperately need one or two players back
Kevin Keegan
That wasted chance was punished on 64 minutes when Owen bagged his second.

The striker latched on to Steven Gerrard's through-ball and outpaced Jihai to go one-on-one with Schmeichel once more.

This time, the Dane was powerless to deny the striker, who found the bottom corner of the City net with a precise finish.

A minute from time, Owen struck again as he shrugged off Jihai once more and clipped a shot in off the woodwork to completely silence the home fans - and the critics.


Man City: Schmeichel, Jihai, Howey (Shuker 70), Distin, Wright-Phillips, Berkovic, Foe, Horlock, Jensen, Anelka, Huckerby (Goater 61).
Subs Not Used: Nash, Mettomo, Kerkar.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Riise, Murphy, Gerrard (Diao 90), Hamann, Heskey, Baros (Diouf 59), Owen.
Subs Not Used: Berger, Kirkland, Cheyrou.

Attendance: 35,131.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's David Oates
"Michael Owen proved that class is permanent"
Man City boss Kevin Keegan
"We weren't at our best today"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"The early goal changed the pace of the game"
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