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BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"Liverpool were given a lesson in finishing"
 real 14k

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
"We lose as a team"
 real 14k

Crystal Palace manager Alan Smith
"We've got one foot in a final"
 real 14k

banner Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 22:10 GMT
Palace leave Liverpool red-faced
Clinton Morrison
Clinton Morrison puts the Liverpool defence under pressure
Crystal Palace 2-1 Liverpool

Andrejs Rubins and Clinton Morrison gave Crystal Palace a shock first-leg advantage - and left Liverpool's much talked about strike force more than a little red faced.

The Premiership giants missed a hatful of gilt-edged chances at Selhurst Park and were punished by a clinical second-half double from the home side.

Rubins let fly with an unstoppable left-foot shot on 56 minutes to put Palace ahead before Morrison doubled the advantage 12 minutes from time.

  Key moments
10 mins: Owen blazes over from Heskey pull-back
23 mins: Heskey fires over bar with just keeper to beat
27 mins: Westerveld palms out Morrison screamer
53 mins: Owen denied by Palace keeper Kolinko
56 mins: Rubins blasts opener beyond helpless Westerveld
78 mins: Morrison doubles lead with close-range strike
79 mins: Smicer sidefoots home from Litmanen cross
Substitute Vladimir Smicer immediately pulled one back to grab a lifeline for Liverpool, but even that strike will have done little to erase the embarrasment of Gerrard Houllier's front men.

The arrival of Finnish international Jari Litmanen is said to have left the door open for Robbie Fowler's departure.

But Liverpool could have played all four of their high-profile strikers together and still failed to win this first-leg tie.

Michael Owen blazed over the crossbar after just 10 minutes following a brilliant run down the right by Emile Heskey.

But Heskey was guilty of an even bigger howler midway through the first half when he fired over the bar with just goalkeeper Alex Kolinko to beat after Steven Gerard had put him clear.

Alan Smith's First Division side had been played off the pitch in the opening stages but drew confidence from Liverpool's early wastefulness.

Steven Murphy (left) and Andrejs Rubins
Palace Goalscorer Rubins takes on Murphy

Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld, redundant for nearly half an hour, was suddenly called into action to twice deny the home side.

First, he pushed a Morrison drive round the post and then pulled off a stunning point-blank stop to deny Mikael Forssel from the rebound.

A minute later, defender Dean Austin sent a header flying wide from a corner as Palace revelled in their new-found belief.


The only criticism we could make of ourselves was that in terms of finishing we weren't up to it
  Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
Their self-esteem rose another level 11 minutes into the second half when Rubins broke the deadlock with an outstanding strike.

Stephane Henchoz allowed Liverpool's back door to creep open with a defensive slip which let in Rubins and the striker needed no second invitation.

Comical finishing

Westerveld barely saw the ball before it flew past his outstretched hand and into the back of the Liverpool net to send the home fans delerious.

Liverpool had chances to respond but at times their finishing was nothing short of comical.

Owen and Nick Barmby were both denied in one-on-ones with Kolinko before Litmanen, on as a second-half substitute, trod on the ball with Kolinko lying stranded.


I'm satisfied with that - it gives us something to take to Anfield
  Alan Smith, Palace boss
The home side punished that finishing with a second goal which took them a giant step closer to a place in the Millennium Stadium final.

Forssel knocked the ball down into the path of Morrison and the hero of the quarter final win over Sunderland repeated his trick with a first-time shot past Westerveld.

Liverpool responded within seconds, Litmanen crossing for fellow sub Smicer to sidefoot home and give the second leg a more balanced look.

That away goal may yet prove crucial, but it failed to remove the smile from Crystal Palace faces - or the blushes from Liverpool's.


Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Austin, Harrison, Zhiyi, Rubins, Rodger, Smith, Thomson, Morrison, Mullins, Forssell. Subs: Gregg, Gray, Carlisle, Frampton, Pollock.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Biscan, Babbel, Gerrard, Murphy, Barmby, Heskey, Owen. Subs: Nielsen, Hamann, Litmanen, Smicer, McAllister.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield)

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See also:

10 Jan 01 |  Worthington Cup
Clockwatch: Palace 2-1 Liverpool
10 Jan 01 |  Photo Galleries
Palace v Liverpool in pictures
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