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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 21:37 GMT
Liverpool 0-0 Real Betis
Liverpool's Peter Crouch and Alberto Rivera of Real Betis
European champions Liverpool reached the last 16 of the Champions League after drawing with Real Betis.

Liverpool missed a catalogue of chances with both strikers Peter Crouch and Fernando Morientes culpable.

Not that Crouch enjoyed much luck, notably when his goalbound volley was clearly blocked by the arm of Betis defender David Rivas

But Morientes missed Liverpool's two best openings, dallying too long for the first and sending a volley wide.

Most of those opportunities created for Crouch and Morientes invariably stemmed from Steven Gerrard's industry.

The Liverpool captain was at his imperious best, the dominant force in midfield, as time and again he carved open the Betis defence.

In the space of two minutes midway through the first half Crouch had four chances to break his Liverpool duck.

After he shrugged off the attentions of Rivas, Crouch hit a volley that Antonio Doblas gratefully clutched to his chest at the second attempt.

Gerrard next flicked the ball with the outside of his foot to Crouch, whose shot was deflected for a corner.

It was Gerrard who took the corner, picking out Crouch, who got above the Betis defence only to head narrowly wide.

Gerrard then whipped in a teasing cross from the right only for Crouch to again go close with a diving header.

After Xisco tested Jose Reina with a long-range shot, Liverpool redoubled their attacking efforts and Doblas had to beat away a fierce Gerrard shot.

Mohamed Sissoko latched on to ball from the rebound but his subsequent shot was too high.

Six minutes before the interval Joaquin showed his ability, first beating John Arne Riise and Dietmar Hamann and then Jamie Carragher only to let the ball run out of play.

Barely seconds after the restart Gerrard chested the ball into the path of Morientes to leave the Spaniard with just Doblas to beat.

But Morientes hesitated for a moment too long allowing Rivas to rush across and get in a saving tackle.

Morientes also flashed a half-volley past the post after good work by Crouch and the Spaniard was soon replaced by Djibril Cisse.

The French striker was deployed on the right wing and from one of his crosses Crouch put in another header that went close.

With seven minutes to go Crouch was withdrawn and the Liverpool striker has now without a goal for 21 hours and eight minutes.

Despite Liverpool's domination Rafael Benitez's side endured some nervous moments, notably when Sami Hyypia's miscued clearance gave Juanito a glimpse of goal.

Liverpool continued to search for that elusive goal and Doblas did well to deny Gerrard late on after he was released by Harry Kewell's perceptive pass.

The draw leaves Liverpool a point ahead of Chelsea, whose 2-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels saw Jose Mourinho's side qualify.

The two English teams now meet at Stamford Bridge in a fortnight to decide who will top Group G.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard (Potter 90), Hamann, Sissoko, Zenden, Crouch (Kewell 83), Morientes (Cisse 66).
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Josemi, Traore, Warnock.

Booked: Hamann.

Real Betis: Doblas, Melli, Juanito, Rivas, Oscar Lopez, Joaquin, Assuncao (Capi 69), Rivera, Arzu, Xisco, Fernando (Israel 78).
Subs Not Used: Contreras, Canas, Castellini, Edu, Juanlu.

Booked: Oscar Lopez.

Att: 42,077.

Ref: Eric Poulat (France).

Interview: Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

Report: BBC Five Live's Jonathan Legard


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