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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 November, 2003, 22:41 GMT
Houllier delighted with draw

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier praised his side's fighting spirit after the three-time Uefa Cup winners battled their way to a priceless draw against Steaua Bucharest.

Djimi Traore scored his first goal for Liverpool with a slick shot in the opening half, though Steaua equalised through Claudiu Raducanu in the second period in a game played on a treacherous pitch in driving rain.

Houllier said of his team's performance: "Their fighting spirit was outstanding. They combined resilience and skill and I am pleased and proud of them.

"They came off the awful pitch knowing they had done a great job. We had more chances, we had three great ones in each half and it should have been sewn up before they equalised.

The second leg will be an equally intriguing match
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier

"But when they did, it meant they had the last 20 minutes really going for it, but we held on in fine style."

"There were heroes everywhere, but none more so than Emile Heskey who sacrificed himself for the team with a marvellous display of effort and work up front," said Houllier.

"The draw was the minimum we deserved, and had Harry Kewell scored when he was clean through, that surely would have been the end of it.

"But they showed they are a good team with some fine players by the way they came back at us, and the second leg will be an equally intriguing match."

Houllier went on to reveal Traore's goal was a repeat of an identical training ground goal the youngster had scored 24 hours earlier in the Romanian captial.

"We only had about 15 minutes training on the pitch and Djimi scored the exact same goal from the same spot at the same end in our practice match," said the Liverpool manager.

Meanwhile Houllier's assistant Phil Thompson had to return home before the game after his mother was taken ill.

BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"The match degenerated into a lottery as the pitch deteriorated"

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"It was a performance made of strength and character"

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