Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 23 News List

Slumping Reds roll over villa

GLORY DAYS A League Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester United is on the cards after the Reds overcame Aston Villa from the Midlands in a close-fought quarterfinal


Liverpool's Steven Gerrard beats Aston Villa's Finnish goalkeeper Peter Enckelman to put Liverpool 3-1 up during their Worthington Cup quarterfinal match at Villa Park, on Thursday. Liverpool will could meet Manchester United in the final if both teams win their semifinals.


Danny Murphy scored an injury-time winner as Liverpool ended its dismal run by winning a 4-3 thriller at Aston Villa on Wednesday and reach the League Cup semifinal.

Murphy scored twice, Milan Baros had a hand in three of the goals and Steven Gerrard produced a long overdue standout performance with a goal as Gerrard Houllier's men shrugged off an alarming Premier League sequence of one point in six games.

With a Merseyside game with Everton to come on Sunday, it was the perfect tonic for Houllier and his team even though they allowed Villa to come back from 3-1 down.

Graham Taylor's Villa went ahead with a Darius Vassell penalty in the 22nd minute only for Murphy to level with a slick free kick five minutes later.

Goals by Baros and Gerrard put Liverpool in control until Villa's German midfielder, Thomas Hitzlsperger, scored his fourth long range goal in five games and Stephane Henchoz deflected a Dion Dublin effort to make it 3-3.

The game appeared set for extra time until Gerrard, who commanded the midfield, set up Murphy for his 91st minute winner.

Minutes after the final whistle, Houllier's team was drawn to face division one Sheffield United in the semifinal while Manchester United must get past defending champion Blackburn Rovers.

``It's a good draw for us,'' said Houllier, whose team won the trophy two seasons ago. ``They are going to be two good games. They've knocked out Premier League teams [Leeds and Sunderland] to get here so we've got to show them a bit of respect and they work very hard for each other.

``Maybe we've got a better chance of getting to the final by avoiding the Premier League sides but it's going to be no pushover. We've got to work hard.''

English League Cup

* Manchester United vs. Blackburn

* Sheffield United vs. Liverpool

* The games are to be played over two legs in the weeks beginning Jan. 6 and Jan. 20.

Source: reuters

"We are very disappointed because it's not as if our league position is great and the cups have been really important. Everyone was really up for this," Villa manager Graham Taylor said.

The fourth quarterfinal was held up for one hour 20 minutes because of a ticketing fiasco.

Instead of sending the tickets in the post, Villa arranged for its fans to collect them at the gates and some 17,000 were still lining up at the scheduled kickoff time.

There also was a minute's silence before the postponed kickoff as a mark of respect to Bert Millichip, the former FA chairman, who died earlier Wednesday at age 88.

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