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BBC Sport's John Rawling
"For forty-five minutes Rotherham made it a thrilling cup tie"
 real 14k

Rotherham's manager Ronnie Moore
"We gave them few chances in the first half"
 real 56k

banner Saturday, 6 January, 2001, 17:00 GMT
Ten man Liverpool sink Rotherham
Emile Heskey
Emile Heskey's two goals made a big difference
Liverpool 3-0 Rotherham United

Two goals from Emile Heskey helped Liverpool to secure their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

In between the two Heskey - his first in the FA Cup - strikes came an effort from Dietmar Hamann, although the Reds also had Croatian Igor Biscan sent off for two bookable offences.

This was in no way a convincing performance from the hosts, but they ultimately did enough to oust the Second Divison side.

But with Robbie Fowler not in the squad and new signing Jari Litmanen in the stands awaiting international clearance, this Liverpool side looked rather short on flair.

Passive

Liverpool fans have been subjected to some performances during the last ten years, but they would be hard pressed to remember anything worse than this first half.

Aside from Michael Owen - sporting a new severe haircut - breaking clear of the Rotherham defence and rounding the goalkeeper only to see his shot cleared off the line, the Reds were passive as an attacking force.

Frequently, it was the visitors who controlled the tempo of the game and pressed their Premiership rivals into an unexpected rearguard action.

Their first chance fell to former Manchester United star Mark Robins, whose shot forced Sander Westerveld to his knees, although the effort lacked any real pace.

Shortly after, Paul Warne tested the Dutch keeper more vigorously with a dipping and swerving effort which bounced viciously in the six yard box.

Westerveld coped with that one, but he had no chance with Robert Scott's flicked header, which came from a free-kick.

The defender rose above the Liverpool defence and was holding his head in hands after seeing the ball hit the crossbar and drift into the Kop.

Deadlock

The first half was full of incident, with four players booked, including Warne, who was lucky not to be sent off after an off-the-ball challenge on Vladimir Smicer, who was easily Liverpool's best player in the half.

The Reds began the second half in more positive fashion and broke the deadlock in the 47th minute.

Owen won the ball on the Liverpool right and floated over a cross which Heskey met with a header that goalkeeper Ian Gray seemed to have held, until he fell to the floor, with the ball sliding under him and over the line.

In response, Rotherham managed another impressive burst of play which saw them keep Liverpool in their own half.

Referee Mark Halsey, who had incurred the wrath of Liverpool fans throughout the game, went further when he sent off Biscan for a second bookable offence, although neither could be termed serious foul play.

Liverpool averted their defensive crisis by bringing on Steven Gerrard for Owen.

Gerard Houllier's men showed their character by riding the storm and then hitting back with two quick goals.

Proud

The first game from their German international Hamann, who struck home from 20 yards after fine work on the right from Danny Murphy created space in the centre.

The other came from Heskey, who ran onto a pass from Hamann and smashed home a right foot shot from just over 20 yards to make the victory safe.

From there, the game was over, although the visitors nearly grabbed a consolation through Scott, who again headed over from an unmarked position.


Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Biscan, Smicer, Murphy, Hamann, McAllister, Owen, Heskey.
Subs: Gerrard, Barmby, Diomede, Nielsen, Vignal.

Rotherham United: Gray, Artell, Scott, Branston, Garner, Warne, Talbot, Watson, Hurst, Robins, Lee.
Subs: Beech, Monkhouse, Berry, Sedgwick, Connor.

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).

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