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Sunday, 8 April, 2001, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Liverpool end Wycombe's fight
Liverpool 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Liverpool finally ended Wycombe Wanderers' amazing FA Cup adventure - but only after a mighty semi-final struggle at rain-soaked Villa Park.
Lawrie Sanchez' Second Division underdogs made a Liverpool side chasing a cup treble fight every inch of the way before finally reaching the final against Arsenal in Cardiff next month.
Liverpool took 78 minutes to break down Wycombe's stubborn resistance when substitute Emile Heskey made the breakthrough.
And Wycombe looked down and out when Robbie Fowler scored a brilliant second from a free-kick as time ticked away.
Wycombe refused to go quietly, and still threatened to provide a dramatic twist in the tale when Keith Ryan - who played non-league football at the club - scored in the dying seconds to throw them a lifeline.
The dream finish did not materialise, but Wycombe's effort once again won the hearts of all those who feared the romance of the FA Cup had died.
Liverpool's superior quality saw them through, and Gerard Houllier's side remain on course to add the FA Cup and the Uefa Cup to The Worthington Cup.
Liverpool boss Houllier made four changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Barcelona in the Uefa Cup semi-final in the Nou Camp.
Heskey, Patrik Berger, Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy were rested, allowing Nick Barmby, Gary McAllister,Christian Ziege and Fowler to start.
Liverpool opened with menacing intent - with Owen's flick flashing across the face of goal from McAllister's cross in the first minute.
And seconds later goalkeeper Martin Taylor dived bravely to beat Owen to a dangerous cross from Fowler.
Wycombe settled comfortably to their task after the early Liverpool pressure and more than held their own for the remainder of the first half.
Liverpool had penalty appeals waved away by referee Paul Durkin when Owen tumbled under challenge from Cousins.
Wycombe's players were furious with the England striker as they claimed he had dived, and it was clear Owen had accidentally stumbled.
The midfield battle was becoming increasingly physical - and Wycombe's Steve Brown was rightly shown the yellow card for a late tackle on Dietmar Hamann.
Ryan tested Westerveld with a flicked header before Taylor came to Wycombe's rescue with a brilliant save from Owen after 32 minutes.
Liverpool came close again in first half injury time, when Ziege's overhead kick flew narrowly wide.
Houllier was forced to make a change five minutes into the second half when Barmby limped off and was replaced by Gerrard.
And he was quickly followed by Wycombe counterpart Sanchez, who sent on quarter-final goal hero Roy Essandoh, who replaced veteran Andy Rammell.
Liverpool were making no impact on a resolute Wycombe rearguard, and Houllier made an inevitable change when he replaced Ziege with Heskey on the hour.
Heskey broke the shackles after 75 minutes with a flying header, but Taylor's handling was again secure.
And he dived bravely at Owen's feet as Liverpool's threat started to grow - a stop that brought the first corner of the semi-final.
It led to Liverpool's breakthrough as Heskey got on the end of Gerrard's cross to power a header high past Taylor.
Both sides made more changes with ten minutes to go, Wycombe sending on Guy Whittingham and Dave Carroll for Brown and Ben Townsend.
Liverpool also replaced Owen with Murphy - and the game was over two minutes later, when Fowler curled a perfect left foot free-kick into the top corner.
Wycombe still refused to lie down, and were given hope when Ryan lobbed a finish over Westerveld with three minutes left - but time ran out on their dream and Liverpool emerged victorious.
Wycombe: Taylor, Cousins, Vinnicombe, McCarthy, Bates, Ryan, Townsend, Simpson, Brown, Rammell, Bulman. Subs: Carroll, Whittingham, Lee, Osborne, Essandoh.
Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Hamann, Barmby, McAllister, Ziege, Fowler, Owen. Subs: Heskey, Murphy, Berger, Gerrard, Arphexad.
Referee: P Durkin (Dorset)
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