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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 20:10 GMT 21:10 UK
Owen rescues Liverpool
Liverpool goalscorer Michael Owen

Olimpija 1-1 Liverpool

Michael Owen passed Ian Rush's record of 20 goals in European competition as he scored a late leveller against Slovenian side Olimpija in the first round of the Uefa Cup.

The England striker headed home a John Arne Riise cross 12 minutes from time to earn his side a draw.

Gerard Houllier's men had been stunned by Anton Zlogar's second-half opener after Nedim Jusufbegovic's shot had rebounded off Jerzy Dudek's post.

Houllier decided to rest some key players for the tie and gave starts to Anthony Le Tallec, Salif Diao and Danny Murphy.

Had the Slovenians been more potent in the attacking third of the field they could have taken advantage of their neat build-up play, but Liverpool soon began to create chances.

KEY MOMENTS
26 mins: Owen has goal ruled out for offside
52 mins: Kewell free-kick is brilliantly saved by Mavric
66 mins: Zlogar scores after Jusufbegovic's shot hits the post
78 mins: Owen equalises for Liverpool

After 14 minutes Le Tallec should have opened his account but he blazed over from 12 yards and a minute later the injured Danny Murphy had to be replaced by Steven Gerrard.

Owen thought he had opened the scoring when he tapped home after Borut Mavric palmed away Diao's shot, but the England striker was flagged for offside.

The hosts could have even taken a surprise lead six minutes before the break but home fans favourite Mladen Rudonja shot straight at Dudek from a good position.

Liverpool came out in the second half looking keen to break Olimpija's spirit, and after Anton Zlogar hit a volley that Dudek saved well they saw a succession of opportunities at the other end go begging.

A curling Harry Kewell free-kick brought a magnificent save from Mavric and just moments later a thunderous Gerrard drive flashed past the keeper's right-hand post courtesy of a deflection.

With 24 minutes left Liverpool were rocked when Jusufbegovic hit a crisp right-foot shot from 20 yards that cannoned back off Dudek's post, and Zlogar tapped home the rebound.

The Slovenians looked the more likely to add to their tally but just as they were counting down the clock to a famous win, up stepped Owen to dash their hopes.

Riise sent in a delightful cross from the left wing and Owen was there to head the ball past Mavric into the bottom corner of the net.


Olimpija: Mavric, Lazic, Budicin, Handanagic, Aljancic, Ilic, Zlogar, Barun, Jusufbegovic, Rudonja, Puc. Subs: Popivoda, Kreft, Mirtic, Grabic, Kosic, Kmetec, Pokorn.

Liverpool: Dudek, Diao, Hyypia, Biscan, Riise, Murphy, Smicer, Le Tallec, Kewell, Owen, Heskey. Subs: Luzi Bernardi, Henchoz, Finnan, Gerrard, Traore, Sinama Pongolle, Welsh.

Referee: Julian Rodriguez Santiago (Spain).





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