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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 21:51 GMT
Liverpool ease through
Liverpool 2-0 Auxerre
(Liverpool win 3-0 on aggregate)

Liverpool will meet Celtic in the next round
Liverpool will meet Celtic in the next round
Liverpool booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup and an all-British showdown with Celtic thanks to a goal from Michael Owen and a horrendous goalkeeping error.

The Merseysiders went through 3-0 on aggregate, but it was hardly a vintage performance from Gerard Houllier's out-of-sorts side.

With just a one-goal advantage from the opening leg, Liverpool had some nervy moments against the French side until Owen's goal midway through the second half.

The England striker's fine finish will go some way to easing the pressure on Houllier after a tough week.

It also sees him tie Ian Rush's European goalscoring record for the club.

Danny Murphy ensured their passage when he fired a shot from long-range that Auxerre keeper Fabien Cool fumbled it his own net.

Key moments
67 mins: Owen opens the scoring for Liverpool
73 mins: Murphy makes it two after a blunder from Cool
83 mins: Owen volleys over the bar to miss the chance for the record

Murphy had enjoyed the first real sight on goal in the 17th minute when he shot over the bar on the turn.

But Auxerre looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the opening period with Djibril Cisse looking particularly lively.

He headed just wide from a Khalilou Fadiga corner and then fired in a left foot shot from a wide angle that flashed past the post.

He had an even better chance when the ball fell to him inside the box, but his powerful volley was well parried by Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek.

Liverpool began the second half in far brighter mood and Owen had a good chance to stretch their aggregate advantage, but a poor first touch took him wide and he could only fire straight at Cool.

The chances again dried up for Liverpool and Lionel Mathis tested Dudek as the home side continued to live dangerously.

It's satisfying to get in to the next round
Michael Owen

Substitute Vladimir Smicer threatened to tie things up for Liverpool when he went on a mazy run and finished it with a powerful shot, but it just rose too high to test Cool.

With the match looking headed for a nervy finish Murphy flicked the ball through and Owen ran through on goal and chipped over the keeper to score his 20th goal for the club in Europe.

The goal allowed Liverpool to relax a bit and just six minutes later Cool blundered to give Murphy his 10th of the season.

There was even the chance for Owen to break Rush's record, but at full stretch he volleyed over from point-blank range.

He will no doubt be looking to write his name in the history books when they face Celtic at Parkhead on 13 March.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Henchoz (Biscan 76), Hyypia, Traore (Smicer 45), Diouf (Hamann 62), Murphy, Gerrard, Riise, Owen, Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Arphexad, Baros, Diao, Cheyrou.

Booked: Traore.

Auxerre: Cool, Radet, Boumsong, Mexes, Jaures, Faye, Tainio, Mathis, Lachuer, Fadiga (Akale 77), Cisse (Mwaruwari 77).
Subs Not Used: Hamel, Grichting, Gonzales, Perrier Doumbe, Sirieix.

Booked: Mathis, Tainio.

Attendance: 34,252

Referee: A Lopez Nieto (Spain).

Liverpool v Auxerre:
See Liverpool advance to the quarter-final

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"The players didn't know how to approach the first half"


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