Two down - one to go

Liverpool remain on course to re-write the record books after victory over Arsenal in this afternoon's FA Cup Final completed the second leg of what will hopefully become an unprecedented cup treble on Wednesday.

A sensational late double from man of the moment Michael Owen was enough to defeat the Gunners in Cardiff, clinching a sixth FA Cup, and second trophy of the season for the Reds.

Victory also settled a few old cup final scores with the men from Highbury and older Liverpudlians will no doubt take sweet satisfaction in seeing Gerard Houllier's men avenge the Wembley defeats of 1950, 71 and 87.

In the first FA Cup Final to be staged outside of England since the competition began Danny Murphy, who missed the Worthington Cup Final in February, returned to the starting line-up in place of Gary McAllister, while up front Gerard Houllier opted for the in form Michael Owen ahead of vice-captain Robbie Fowler.

There was a great atmosphere inside the Millennium Stadium as Sami Hyypia led Liverpool out alongside Arsenal's Tony Adams, but in keeping with recent FA Cup Final's the first half failed to live up to its pre-match billing.

On a sweltering day in the Welsh capital, the pace was slow and Liverpool offered no real threat to David Seamen in the Arsenal goal. It was the Gunners who looked the sharpest, with the front two of Henry and Wiltord particularly dangerous.

The first goalscoring opportunity of note did not come until the 17th minute and Liverpool were lucky to survive. From a Freddie Ljungberg's pass, Henry raced through on goal, rounded Westerveld and seemed certain to open the scoring. Fortunately, Stephane Henchoz tracked back to narrow the angle and the French World Cup winner shot into the side netting from close range.

Liverpool continued to sit back and too many miss-placed passes invited pressure. Steven Gerrard shot over on 20 minutes with what was a rare effort on goal. Henry then went close with an acrobatic overhead kickand Grimandi shot straight at Westerveld, as the half petered out.

The game burst into life within three minutes of the restart. Murphy swung in a free kick from the right and Heskey powered a header towards goal. Seamen knew little about it and could only palm the ball away.

At the opposite end Arsenal launched a sustained period of pressure that almost brought the opening goal. Henry and Pires combined on the edge of the Liverpool box and the ball seemed to be heading for the back of the net until Westerveld somehow managed to scoop it away. The danger wasn't over though and Hyypia then had to clear off the line from young Ashley Cole.

Liverpudlians breathed a huge sigh of relief but their nerves continued to be put through the shredder as Henry's pace terrorised the Reds back line.

In the 67th minute Liverpool survived another major scare. Henry broke through again and squared to Ljungberg, whose subsequent shot was headed off the line by Hyypia. The ball came straight back towards goal and this time it was Henchoz who saved the day.

The respite was to be just a brief one. Five minutes later Arsenal finally broke the deadlock through Freddie Ljungberg. Robert Pires played the killer pass and Ljungberg rounded Westerveld to finish.

On the balance of play the goal was a deserved one for the Gunners and it could have been worse for Liverpool moments later when Westerveld was forced to save from Henry.

Sensing the cup was slipping from his grasp Houllier made a double substitution in the 76th minute, with Berger and Fowler coming off the bench, the latter's appearance being greeted by a massive roar of approval from the travelling Kopites.

Within minutes it paid dividends. McAllister delivered a teasing free kick into the Arsenal danger zone, Babbel nodded the ball back and Owen made no mistake with a rasping right foot volley that left Seamen standing and nestled sweetly into the bottom corner.
Six minutes later, with the game seemingly heading for extra time, Liverpool snatched a sensational lead. Heskey brought the ball out of defence and Berger's searching pass up field sent Owen racing clear on goal. The in form striker outpaced the Gunners defence and with his left foot steered the ball across Seamen and in off the post.

It was enough to win the cup and there was little time for Arsenal's shattered players to fight back.

The celebrations began in earnest once referee Steve Dunn blew his final whistle. Club captain Jamie Redknapp and vice skipper Robbie Fowler jointly received the trophy to the delight of the ecstatic Liverpool fans.

Having already won the Worthington Cup at the same venue in February Liverpool can rightly claim to be the undisputed cup kings of English football.

It leaves them on the verge of a historic triple trophy haul and all roads now lead to Dortmund for Wednesday's UEFA Cup Final with Alaves.
Arsenal: Adams (c), Grimandi, Henry, Keown, Ljungberg, Pires, Seaman, Toure, Vieira, van Persie, . Subs - Bergkamp, Kanu, Parlour, Tavlaridis,

Liverpool: Babbel, Carragher, Gerrard, Hamann, Henchoz, Heskey, Hyypia (c), Murphy, Owen, Smicer, Westerveld. Subs - Arphexad, Berger, Fowler, McAllister, Vignal

Referee: Steve Dunn

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