Robbie Fowler's 151st career goal for Liverpool was a long time coming
Robbie Fowler's 151st career goal for Liverpool was a long time coming but it was sufficient to secure his side's passage into the 4th Round of the Worthington Cup.
Fowler had squandered a couple of goalscoring opportunities during the 90 minutes before his extra-time strike finally got him off the mark for the season.
The game ended in controversy though when yet another bizarre Rob Harris decision led to the sending-off of Emile Heskey just two minutes before the end of a pulsating contest.
There was some pulling and shoving between the Liverpool striker and Winston Bogarde but quite why the red card was brandished only the hapless Mr Harris and his assistant will know.
Cue another video to Lancaster Gate, surely.
The game itself had been a credit to both sides as they emphatically brushed aside any thoughts of not taking this competition seriously.
Danny Murphy gave Liverpool the lead in the 10th minute when he collected Didi Hamann's superb defence splitting pass before dispatching a low angled drive past De Goey into the net.
Berger's finish lacked quality as The Reds pressed for another and then Zola too was guilty of some slack control when he had an opportunity at the other end.
The Italian made amends though on 29 minutes when he scored the Chelsea equaliser.
Babayaro sent over a perfectly weighted centre and Zola headed the ball past Arphexad from close range.
Fowler then contrived to just miss a tantalising cross from Smicer and he also failed to hit the target when Barmby played him in.
The second half lacked the verve and flair of the opening period but Liverpool certainly enjoyed the ascendency.
Again, much of the approach play was pleasing on the eye but, again, neither keeper was called upon with any sort of regularity.
Hasslebaink's volley from a brilliant Zola cross was just wide and Fowler came even closer for Liverpool when his low shot hit the foot of the post.
That seemed to sum up Fowler's season thus far but to his credit he kept looking to get into promising positions and linked well with Heskey against a Chelsea defence that was marshalled expertly by Marcel Desailly.
Fowler's moment of glory duly arrived in the 103rd minute.
Berger was the provider and the Liverpool skipper steered his shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net - before racing towards the crowd in a mixture of celebration and sheer, palpable relief.
There was no way back this time for the Londoners but Mr Harris ensured that there was still a late talking point when he dismissed Heskey.
There will doubtless be more to come on that story over the next few days.
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