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Press Association match report

Liverpool indulged themselves with a UEFA Cup slaughter of the Slovakians that proved what we already know - as an attacking force they can be magnificent.

They secured their place in the hat for Friday's third-round draw by virtue of the 3-0 outclassing of this brave, willing Kosice side a fortnight ago in the first leg.

They were too accomplished for the Slovakian champions then, and after spending a first half wasting a glittering array of chances in the Anfield return, they put Kosice to the sword in a tie reduced to a shooting gallery.

It didn't help the visitors much when they were reduced to 10 men after an hour when Marek Spilar was sent off for a desperate lunge at a flying Michael Owen.

But frankly, all the nasty questions that Manchester United asked about what goes on behind Liverpool's free-flowing attackers were left unanswered.

While the front men were creating carnage Liverpool's joint bosses Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier were allowed the luxury of a bit of on-the-spot experimenting with a much-abused defence.

Liverpool recalled David James in goal for his first game since February in place of Brad Friedel, who took over the calamity tag in the defeat at Old Trafford.

The crowd caught on quickly, and one of the biggest cheers of the night came in the closing minutes when James - notoriously unsteady in the air - leaped high to pluck down a swirling left wing cross.

Oyvind Leonhardsen came in for the injured Steve McManaman, and in the second period Dominic Matteo was given a run in the centre of defence as substitute for Phil Babb, while Norwegian right-back Vegard Heggem came on to try to prove he is a better bet than Jason McAteer.

All this could go on in the safe knowledge that the gifted front men were destroying poor Kosice at the other end of the park and going one better than Manchester United.
Last season, United beat Kosice 3-0 twice in two Champions' League matches -

Liverpool's goal deluge was a little better in a game when they produced 27 shots.

But against such poor opposition, it was hard to see whether any definitive conclusions could be drawn from the defensive shufflings.

Three up from the first leg, Liverpool hit the woodwork twice in the first period through Patrik Berger and Owen and also saw Robbie Fowler have a penalty saved after Owen had been brought down.

The early catalogue of wasted chances included Owen's shot deflected wide and a glaring miss from Jamie Redknapp inside the first three minutes.

Redknapp somehow managed to shoot over after a superb build-up down the left between Owen and Berger. Redknapp was again the guilty party after 13 minutes when Babb's long ball put Owen in on the right, only for his perfect lay-back to be squandered by his England colleague.

Then Fowler had a 16th-minute penalty saved by keeper Ladislav Molnar after Owen had been bundled over in the box by Marek Spilar.

Four minutes later, Fowler was put clear on the left when Stig Bjornebye charged down Ivan Kozak's clearance, but the shot flashed wide of the post.

A goal had to come, and Redknapp redeemed himself for the earlier clangers when Paul Ince's free-kick was dummied by Berger to allow Redknapp to drill a low shot home from 18 yards.

The shooting gallery continued in the 35th minute when Redknapp robbed Radaslav Kral and fed Owen, who cut inside to lash a shot inches over the bar.

Redknapp was getting into the swing of things now and he took down an Owen cross with consummate ease and spun to drive a dipping shot from 25 yards that Molnar plucked down from under the bar after 35 minutes.

Berger, who played so well back in his homeland in the first leg, struck a post with a vicious low drive from 20 yards on the run four minutes from the break.

Two minutes later Liverpool hit the woodwork again when Redknapp surged from midfield, put Fowler away with an astute pass, and when the cross came into the six-yard box, Owen smashed his close-range effort against the bar.

Liverpool gave the scoreline a more realistic look with three goals in a four-minute spell after the break. First, after 52 minutes, Ince finished from close range after Fowler had headed a Redknapp cross away from Molnar. Leonhardsen scuffed his shot, and Ince forced the ball home. A minute later Molnar froze as a Bjornebye cross sailed in from the left and Fowler nodded the ball in from six yards.

It got worse for the Slovaks after 55 minutes when Redknapp took a neat pass from Ince and lashed the ball home from 30 yards.

Kosice were then reduced to 10 men after 60 minutes when a despairing lunge by Spilar sent Owen crashing down as he raced clear, and French referee Pascal Garibian brandished the red card.

In the 90th minute, Fowler grabbed his second when he rose to head home Heggem's right wing cross to complete the rout.

Teams:
Liverpool: James, McAteer (Heggem 66), Babb (Matteo 63), Leonhardsen, Fowler, Owen, Redknapp, Berger, Ince (Staunton 71), Bjornebye, Carragher.
Subs Not Used: Kvarme, Friedel, Murphy, Thompson.
Booked: Ince.
Goals: Redknapp 23, Ince 52, Fowler 53, Redknapp 55, Fowler 90.

FC Kosice: Molnar, Gerich, I. Kozak, Dzurik, Spilar, Sovic (Kozlej 62), Nemeth (Lapsansky 62), Semenik, Zvara, Kral, J. Kozak.
Subs Not Used: Skolnik, Jambor, Prohaszka, Lubarskij.
Sent Off: Spilar (60).
Booked: Kral, I. Kozak.
Agg (8-0)

Copyright - Press Association

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