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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 15:55 GMT
Liverpool brush aside Leeds
Murphy scored his seventh league goal of the season
Liverpool 3-1 Leeds

Liverpool maintained their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League while in the process leaving Leeds staring at the abyss.

Goals from Michael Owen, Danny Murphy and Steven Gerrard pushed Liverpool into fifth place, two points behind Chelsea.

While Liverpool chase European football, a fifth consecutive defeat left Leeds just five points ahead of third-from-bottom Bolton, having played a game more.

Owen and Murphy had given Liverpool a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes, but a Mark Viduka goal just before the interval suggested Leeds might just take something from the game.

The second-half was certainly more evenly contested - Murphy hit the post, while Danny Mills went close with a header - until Gerrard's classy finish confirmed Liverpool's superiority.

In the opening six minutes Robinson twice had to come to Leeds' rescue as Reid's side struggled to cope with Liverpool's high tempo start.

KEY MOMENTS
12 mins: Owen bags his 22nd goal of the season
20 mins: Murphy's dipping shot double's Liverpool's lead
44 mins: Viduka pokes the ball home
73 mins: Gerrard volleys home to restore Liverpool's two-goal cushion

First he tipped Murphy's dipping shot over the bar and then the England international goalkeeper got down quickly to block an El-Hadji Diouf effort.

Returning to the side after missing the Celtic defeat, Diouf was a constant menace to the Leeds defence.

After producing another shot that went narrowly wide, Diouf's deflected cross landed at the feet of Owen, who instantly drilled the ball home on 12 minutes.

It did not take long for Liverpool to extend their advantage.

After Mills had failed to clear, Murphy moved infield and then arced the ball over Robinson's outstretched hands into the net.

Amid this Liverpool onslaught, Viduka had contrived to produce two long-range shots that went narrowly over the bar.

Mark Viduka
Viduka briefly revived Leeds' interest in the game

The Australian was rewarded for his persistence just before the interval.

John Arne Riise's woeful clearance was lashed back into the box by Jason Wilcox and after Dudek had blocked a header from Viduka, the Leeds striker prodded the ball home.

At the start of the second-half, Reid introduced Ian Harte and James Milner, a switch that gave Leeds a more solidly defensively look.

Even so a slick one-two between Owen and Murphy sliced open the Leeds defence, only for Heskey to embarrassingly put the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Gerrard showed greater composure as he calmly sent a sidefooted volley past Robinson after good work by Owen.


Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Riise, Diouf, Hamann (Diao 78), Gerrard, Murphy, Owen, Heskey (Baros 78).
Subs not used: Smicer, Arphexad, Biscan.

Leeds: Robinson, Mills, Lucic, Radebe, Bravo (Harte 45), Barmby (Milner 45), Bakke, Okon (McMaster 78), Wilcox, Viduka, Smith.
Subs not used: Martyn, Batty.

Booked: Bakke.

Attendance: 43,021

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"It was a good Liverpool performance"


Leeds caretaker-manager Peter Reid
"I didn't enjoy the result but it's good to be back"



LIVERPOOL

LEEDS UNITED

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