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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 22:00 GMT
Liverpool enjoy a Greek cruise
Liverpool 2-0 Olympiakos (Agg 4-2)
Liverpool embarked on a relaxing Greek cruise as they eased past Olympiakos to reach the fourth round of the Uefa Cup.
Goals from Emile Heskey and Nick Barmby would have impressed watching England scout Tord Grip but, more importantly, they sealed Liverpool a 4-2 aggregate win.
Heskey eased a few early nerves by maintaining his rich vein of goalscoring form to put Liverpool in front by half time.
Barmby claimed an assist in the opener then scored the second himself to cap a hugely impressive display from the lively midfielder.
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier was clearly not intent on pushing everything forward in search of victory and it was a cagey line-up, with Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler both left on the bench as Vladimir Smicer played an advanced role off Heskey.
It was hardly surprising then that Liverpool made a cagey opening too.
Houllier's men looked just a little on edge and the Greeks began brightly, their confidence a long way removed from the collective shambles of the first leg.
Even so, it was Liverpool who had the better of the early openings.
Steven Gerrard was desperately unlucky not to open the scoring on five minutes when he controlled the ball on his chest and saw a dipping left-foot volley acrobatically turned over by goalkeeper Dimitri Eleftheropoulos.
Heskey sidefooted wide after good work by Barmby and Smicer, but the Liverpool defence offered its usual bout of self-inflicted jitters.
First, Jamie Carragher was panicked into spectacularly hacking behind under apparently little pressure.
Then goalkeeper Sander Westerveld stayed rooted to the spot as Olympiakos' two-goal first-leg hero Alexios Alexandris threatened, forcing Sammi Hyypia into a last-ditch defensive tackle.
So, it was as crucial to the Liverpool nerves as to the scoreline when Heskey put Liverpool in the driving seat on 28 minutes.
Barmby rode a tackle from Georgios Anatolakis and played a precise through ball which split the Greek defence, allowing Heskey to run clear and drill a low shot past the advancing keeper.
The crucial goal left Liverpool in complete control and forced the Greeks to open up more after half time.
That in turn meant Olympiakos were more vulnerable than ever at the back and they had a lucky escape when Hyypia's header from a Barmby corner was headed off the line by the perfectly-positioned Predrag Djordjevic.
But there was no escape route for the Greeks five minutes later as Barmby brilliantly put Liverpool two goals clear.
Floodgates remain locked
The England midfielder exchanged passes with Danny Murphy and touched the ball past Eleftheropoulos before clipping a precise left-foot shot which bounced in off a post from a tight angle.
The goal should have opened the floodgates at a rain-soaked Anfield but, to their credit, the visitors refused to buckle under increasing pressure.
They should have been granted a lifeline with 20 minutes still to play when Djordjevic sped past Westerveld, only to be flattened by the advancing Dutchman.
Incredibly, Olympiakos' claims for a penalty were waved away and, with them, any hopes of an unlikely comeback were dismissed too.
But there was still time for a remarkable injury-time miss from Smicer, who sidefooted over an empty goal from Barmby's cross as he failed woefully to put the icing on Liverpool's cake.
Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Babbel, Smicer, Heskey, Hyypia, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Barmby, Carragher. Subs: Arphexad, Ziege, Fowler, Owen, McAllister, Partridge, Wright.
Olympiakos: Eleftheropoulos, Patsatzoglou, Amanatidis, Poursaitidis, Giovanni, Djordjevic, Mavrogenidis, Zetterberg, G. Georgatos, Alexandris, Anatolakis. Subs: Georgiou, Tohouroglou, Niniadis, De Souza, Kostoulas, Kontis, Ofori Quaye.
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