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Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
Liverpool clinch Uefa Cup final place
Liverpool 1-0 Barcelona (Agg 1-0)
Gary McAllister's first half penalty, combined with another magnificent rearguard action, saw Liverpool through to the Uefa Cup final in a nail-biting clash with Barcelona.
McAllister, already the hero of red Merseyside following his last-gasp winner against Everton, took the plaudits again.
He punished Patrick Kluivert's first-half handball with a clinical penalty.
Kluivert inexplicably handled in his own area a minute before half time.
That incident provided the defining moment of the tie as Liverpool won through to their first European final in 16 years.
McAllister's presence gave the Liverpool line-up a slightly lop-sided look, with two right-footers on the left side.
But the home side made a perfectly well-balanced start.
Barcelona's 18-year-old rookie keeper, Jose Manuel Reina, looked as nervous as a man who had shipped eight goals in his last two games.
Reina flapped at a McAllister corner under minimal pressure from Emile Heskey early on.
But he did react bravely to save at the feet of Michael Owen after the striker had shown a little too much of the ball to the keeper.
In between, Brazilian magician Rivaldo offered a threat of the danger Liverpool had to take heed of.
The striker produced a magnificent fingertip save from Sander Westerveld with a thundering drive from a standing start 45 yards from goal.
He then provided a glorious defence-splitting pass which Kluivert should have complimented in front of goal.
Former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars was also a constant threat to Liverpool.
And it was his mazy run and cross which led to Luis Enrique screwing a shot agonisingly wide.
A pulsating end-to-end opening saw Liverpool spend far more time in their opponents' half than they had done throughout a stale first leg.
Smicer headed straight at Reina from a Heskey cross before Steven Gerrard saw penalty claims waved away following a threatening run from midfield.
Liverpool were gifted their chance from the spot a minute before half time.
Kluivert curiously jumped with two arms above his head and glanced the back of his right hand against the ball with Sami Hyypia lurking.
McAllister, with Merseyside derby applause still ringing in his ears, remained ice cool, rifling into the roof of the net to give Reina no chance.
That calmness under pressure was exactly what Liverpool required as they aimed to hold on to their ticket to Dortmund in the second half, especially in the eye of a predictable Barcelona storm.
The visitors knew an away goal could be enough to snatch back that cup final place.
They peppered their hosts in the early stages of the second half and Westerveld almost cracked in the most bizarre circumstances.
The Dutch keeper trotted out of his area to hack clear as Kluivert chased Emannuel Petit's long ball forward.
But he only succeeded in an embarrassing mis-kick, which skimmed off his boot and trickled over the goal-line with Kluivert chasing in desperation.
The let-off was as significant as McAllister's earlier breakthrough and that fact was not lost on Liverpool.
Gerard Houllier almost immediately replaced Owen with Patrik Berger and adopted a split-striker formation as the home side attempted to control midfield.
They still created chances, the outstanding Gerrard drilling inches wide of the far post before coming off to a standing ovation having suffered a calf injury.
Heskey missed the chance to kill the tie when he instinctively volleyed over with seven minutes left.
That made for an agonising final few minutes for the Anfield faithful.
But Liverpool's back four, almost in tribute to those supporters, remained airtight in their 16th consecutive game together to preserve their slender advantage.
Having kept out one of the world's most dangerous strike forces for three full hours, it was no more than they deserved.
Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Gerrard, Hamann, McAllister, Smicer, Heskey, Owen. Subs: Arphexad, Ziege, Fowler, Murphy, Berger, Vignal, Wright.
Barcelona: Reina, Reiziger, de Boer, Puyol, Petit, Luis Enrique, Cocu, Guardiola, Overmars, Rivaldo, Kluivert. Subs: Dutruel, De la Pena, Xavi, Gabri, Dani, Simao, Zenden.
Referee: Urs Meier (Switzerland)
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