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BBC Five Live's Steve Wilson
With a round up of the action
 real 14k

Liverpool's Robbie Fowler
"It's been a long time"
 real 14k

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"The essential thing is to get through to the next round"
 real 56k

Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK
Reds achieve Rapid progress
Patrik Berger
Patrik Berger returned from injury
Liverpool 0-0 Rapid Bucharest (Agg:1-0)

Despite a scoreless stalemate at Anfield, Liverpool advanced to the Uefa Cup second round with a 1-0 aggregate success over Rapid Bucharest.

Even the return of star striker Robbie Fowler failed to inspire an insipid Liverpool side, but the Romanian's reluctance to get forward in numbers facilitated their primary task of stopping Rapid scoring.

And even though the tie remained poised until the end, Liverpool held on with relative comfort.

Although the focus was on the return to the starting line-up of Fowler as captain for the first time since April, Liverpool also welcomed back Sami Hyypia from injury and Veggard Heggem and Patrick Berger for their first starts of the season.
Berger battles with Constantinu
Berger battles with Constantinu

The Norwegian displaced Rigobert Song at right-back, Hyypia supplanted Stephane Henchoz at centre back while Berger came in for Jamie Carragher in the centre of midfield.

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and his Rapid counterpart Anghel Iordanescu are the best of friends, but the some of the Liverpool side looked as if they had just been introduced so disjointed was their play in the opening half.

They started reasonably well with Steven Gerrard coming close to putting Fowler and Owen in quick succession. However, Rapid responded with a sustained spell of pressure, but despite Daniel Pancu's promptings, Sander Westerveld was not tested.

The home side already led 1-0 from the first leg and their early approach was decidedly low-key with Dietmar Hamann's low free-kick their first sight of goal.

Razvan Lucescu turned behind Fowler's header at the far post but it was Rapid who came closest to opening the scoring in the first half.

After 26 minutes Constantin Maldarasanu released Pancu, who skipped smartly past Hyypia, but Westerveld was out quickly to make a vital save.

The vivacious Pancu should have done better four minutes later, but he shot well over from a good position.

Cautious

Rapid's precise passing contrasted sharply with Liverpool's failure to retain possession, but the Romanian's overly cautious approach restricted their attacking endeavours to that solitary Pancu effort.

And they were almost punished for that circumspection on the stroke of half-time when Berger's weighted pass put Owen clear, but his hurried flick was well saved by Lucescu.

An indication of Houllier's displeasure with the Liverpool display was the introduction of Christian Ziege for the ineffectual Djimi Traore barely five minutes into the second half.

Diomede tussles with Chrita

And the Reds certainly upped the tempo thereafter with Gerrard unlucky not to seal the tie with a venomous shot from 30 yards after 53 minutes and the same player hit another shot straight at Lucescu minutes later.

Fowler should have marked his return with a goal after 56 minutes, but he headed straight at the 'keeper from a trademark Ziege cross.

Owen could have got on the end of a long ball from the back after 64 minutes but he was unable to get a touch on the bouncing ball, while Ziege threatened with a spectacular volley minutes later.

His compatriot Hamann fizzed another free kick narrowly wide after 70 minutes.

However, the fragility of Liverpool's lead was shown after 80 minutes when substitute Nicolae Constantinu got in behind, but Gerrard got back to block bravely.

However, with Rapid impotent in attack, Liverpool advanced despite a second successive below-par home performance.

However, Gerrard Houllier was satisfied that Liverpool had survived the tie.

"The essential thing was to get through. We were very nervous in the first half, but we were better in the second when we had a couple of chances.

He said: "They had only on real chance in the game.

"The players didn't know what to do and the 1-0 lead is a false confidence, and they wanted to make sure first of all to go through."


Teams

Liverpool: Westerveld, Heggem, Babbel, Hyypia, Traore, Gerrard, Hamann, Berger, Diomede, Fowler, Owen. Subs: Arphexad, Henchoz, Ziege, Murphy, Meijer, Barmby, Carragher.

Rapid Bucharest: Lucescu, Stanciu, Frasineanu, Chirica, Constantinovicr, Iftodi, Maldarasanu, Pancu, Schumacher, Iencsi, Isaila. Subs: Buta, Radu, Radulescu, Balan, Constantin, Bundea, Mutica.

Referee: M Liba (Czech Republic)

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27 Sep 00 |  Liverpool
Houllier: Fowler ready for England
28 Sep 00 |  Football
KopCam cheer worldwide
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