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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 21:51 GMT
Liverpool 3-0 Portsmouth
Dietmar Hamann is congratulated by Michael Owen on opening the scoring
Liverpool revived their bid for a Champions League spot with a convincing victory over Portsmouth.

A stunning volley from Dietmar Hamann and two goals from Michael Owen lifted the Reds into fifth place, a point adrift of Charlton.

Owen tucked away his first from six yards before sealing a welcome return to form with a second-half header.

Emile Heskey might have made it four late on when he headed against a post, while Portsmouth offered little.

Liverpool, knowing victory was vital to keep pace with Charlton and Newcastle in the fight for fourth spot, got off to a flying start.

Owen, foraging effectively down the left, picked out Hamann on the edge of the area, who lashed home a stunning right-foot volley.

5 mins: Hamann fires Liverpool in front
17 mins: Hislop saves Riise effort
28 mins: Owen doubles Liverpool's lead
51 mins: LuaLua misses great chance for Pompey
58 mins: Owen heads home Gerrard's corner
Owen might have scored himself 10 minutes later as he turned his marker and let fly from 25 yards, but Shaka Hislop was equal to the effort.

But for their goalkeeper, Portsmouth might have been 5-0 down by half-time.

Hislop reacted quickly to punch away a stinging drive from John Arne Riise after 16 minutes, then parried Harry Kewell's close-range effort.

He also palmed away a header from Igor Biscan as Liverpool threatened to put the match to bed before the interval.

As it was they were merely two goals to the good, Owen neatly controlling Jamie Carragher's cross in the 28th minute before tucking the ball into the far corner.

Michael Owen scores his first goal against Portsmouth
Owen scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season
Liverpool's attacking verve was in stark contrast to Portsmouth, who were bereft of any confidence or belief.

Svetoslav Todorov, starting his first game of the season, dallied too long with their best chance of the first half, and was replaced at half-time by Matt Taylor.

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp also introduced Steve Stone for Alexei Smertin and the visitors rallied briefly.

Dejan Stefanovic hit the woodwork with a free kick before Lomana LuaLua missed a glorious chance from six yards out after 51 minutes.

Owen made him pay for his profligacy with his second before the hour, stealing ahead of his marker to head home Steven Gerrard's inswinging corner.

The England striker showed his renewed confidence with another effort across goal before teeing up Danny Murphy for a shot well saved by Hislop.

Heskey, restored to the starting line-up, directed a header against a post from Kewell's cross as Liverpool pressed for more goals late on.

Defeat left Portsmouth in the bottom three, still two points adrift of safety.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Biscan, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Owen, Heskey.
Subs: Henchoz, Baros, Diouf, Cheyrou, Luzi Bernardi.

Portsmouth: Hislop, Stefanovic, Primus, De Zeeuw, Curtis, Smertin, Faye, Hughes, LuaLua, Todorov, Mornar.
Subs: Wapenaar, Taylor, Sheringham, Stone, Pasanen.

Referee: B Knight (Kent)

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Liverpool crisis? What crisis!"

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"I thought we played well"

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