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Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"I wish we could play like that in the Premiership"
 real 14k

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Despite dominating, Porto never threatened to score"
 real 14k

banner Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 23:26 GMT
Liverpool force Porto stalemate
Robbie Fowler and Carlos Secretario
Robbie Fowler rides the challenge of Carlos Secretario
FC Porto 0-0 Liverpool

Liverpool enjoyed another successful European awayday as they frustrated Porto in the first leg of their Uefa Cup quarter final clash.

Another disciplined performance from Gerrard Houllier's side continued their unbeaten away run in the competition as they limited the home side to a handful of chances.

That in itself was a major achievement.

Porto have not been beaten at the Stadio das Antas in a year - Barcelona the last side to breach their defences in a Champions League clash last March.

Carlos Paredes and Michael Owen
Carlos Paredes keeps Michael Owen quiet

That marks a run of 27 games without defeat - 21 of them victories.

In a bid to end that sequence, Liverpool reinstated the strike partnership which brought them victory in Rome in the fourth round.

Michael Owen, the two-goal hero of that night, partnered Robbie Fowler up front, with Emile Heskey having to settle for a place on the bench.

But chances were few and far between for the Liverpool strikers as Gerard Houllier's side adopted a conservative approach to the tie.

It was an outstanding display by our defence, but we did not do as well when we did have the ball in attack
  Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
In all honesty, there was never too much pressure to soak up, although Nuno Capucho created a few early scares among the Liverpool defence.

But Sami Hyypia kept such a tight rein on dangerman Jesus Pena that the Portuguese failed to produce one shot in the opening 20 minutes.

Having contained their hosts in the opening exchanges, Liverpool began to open up as they grew in confidence.

Owen ended a penetrating run down the left with a disappointing cross which was easily cut out and Fowler blazed wide midway through the half.

Porto fans restless

But the best chance fell to Owen on 24 minutes, only for the striker to shoot straight into the arms of Sergei Ovchinnikov as he stretched to latch on to Fowler's through ball.

With Liverpool proving more than a match for a side with such an impressive home record, the Porto fans began to grow restless.

It took 40 minutes for the home side to warm the hands of Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld, and the Dutchman was equal to the task as he beat away a stinging right-foot drive from Carlos Chainho.

Liverpool's back four, expertly marshalled by the outstanding Hyppia, were made to work a little harder in the second half and they looked to have finally been breached midway through the second half.

Deco Sousa caught the defence out with a clever lofted pass which finally allowed Pena to break free of his shackles.

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard went close with a long-range strike

But the chance that the 23-goal Brazilian striker had been waiting for was horribly wasted as he lashed his shot well wide of the far post.

Sousa went closer with a 25-yard shot which grazed the outside of a post with Westerveld reduced to the role of spectator, but that was as close as the Portuguese side came.

Liverpool were not without chances of their own, Gerrard forcing a smart save from Ovchinnikov with a curling strike from just outside the penalty area.

An away goal would have been a huge bonus for Houllier's side in their bid to reach the semi-finals.

In its absence, a goalless draw still marks another job well done on the road.

FC Porto: Ovchinnikov, Jorge Costa, Nelson, Paredes, Secretario, Deco, Drulovic, Andrade, Chainho, Capucho, Pena. Subs: Espinha, Aloisio, Santos, Maric, Candido Costa, Romeu, Clayton.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Ziege, Hamann, Gerrard, Smicer, Owen, Fowler. Subs: Arphexad, Murphy, Heskey, Barmby, McAllister, Diomede, Wright.

Referee: P Collina (Italy)

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See also:

08 Mar 01 |  Uefa Cup
Clockwatch: FC Porto 0-0 Liverpool
22 Feb 01 |  Sports Talk
Can Liverpool go all the way?
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