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Press Association report

If anyone doubted Liverpool's brave words that they hadn't given up the title chase, they should have witnessed this compelling Premiership battle in front of Anfield's biggest crowd of the season.

A titanic collision between two giants of the game, it was fourth against fifth, and Liverpool produced their best display for months.

If you thought it was all over the day they lost at home to Manchester United, the response has been heartwarming for the Mersey fans.

Their team's response has been three successive victories, compounded with the sort of display in this one that suggests they have no intention ofgiving up anything without a fight.

And they are doing it with the sort of high-quality, high-speed passing plus brave hearts too when the studs started to fly - that left Leeds knowing they have a bit to go yet if they want to contest this season's championship.

Liverpool saw Robbie Fowler, recently looking at odds with his game, grab two goals in four minutes, after Michael Owen had struck a superb first for Liverpool just seconds into the second half.

Alf Haaland did head one back for Leeds, but Liverpool had produced a display of skill and courage to deserve the points.

Paul Ince's return to central midfield after five matches out through suspension and injury, was the key to Liverpool's heartbeat.

Jamie Carragher had done well in his absence, but the England star drove and bullied his team through an outstanding game.

And while Ince was crucial to Liverpool's midfield, young Owen was exceptional up front.

In the first half he twice came within inches of squirming away from thegiant Robert Molenaar, who had been detailed to police him.

Owen gave the balding defender a fierce examination with his pace and close control.

But although Liverpool were the team trying to play passing football, Leeds offered a different style.

They defended with passion and determination, trying to snuff the life out of any creative work from the likes of Jamie Redknapp.

It's a style that depends so much on effort and workrate, and when you at times concede so much of the ball to your opponents, it's very hard to break out the grip of a team who won't be intimidated.

Liverpool's best first half chance came when Jason McAteer forced his way in from the right, went past three tackles, but then had a rush of blood when he discovered himself 12 yards out with a great shooting chance, and skied the ball over the bar.

After such a tight, compelling first half, Liverpool found themselves ahead after just 56 seconds of the restart.

Harkness pumped a high ball in from the left, and Robertson took his eye off it under pressure from Leonhardsen. The ball dropped, the Norwegian touched it sideways, and Owen lashed home a superb drive from the edge of the box.

Less than a minute later, Leeds claimed a penalty in front of their outraged fans.

Wallace raced into the box, pushed the ball past Kvarme, and then went down in a challenge with the defender. Barnsley referee Stephen Lodge waved play on, and Leeds chief George Graham was on his feet fuming on the touchline.

Leeds had been stung, and after some rank bad defending, Hopkin headed over from close range.

Then Liverpool broke, Ince put Owen away, and the little striker ran on to sidefoot a glorious chance wide of the far post.

Fowler almost made it two when he spun onto a McAteer cross, and saw his shot deflect inches wide.

Fowler had an even better chance after 59 minutes. James sent McManaman away with a superb throw down the left. The England man raced on, played a double one-two with Fowler, and then watched as his England colleague missed from 10 yards.

Liverpool wouldn't be denied. Once again James' distribution sent McManaman away, and when he delayed his pass to perfection to send Fowler in again, this time the striker kept his cool and calmly slid his shot wide of Nigel Martyn after 79 minutes.

Four minutes later Fowler had an even easier chance, when the electric Owen got round the back of the defence to pull back a cross that Fowler tapped in from a couple of yards.

It was all over now, even though Haaland headed in a Gary Kelly free kick just 60 seconds later.

Manager Roy Evans took off Ince, Redknapp and Fowler in a triple substitution to save them for Sunday's game at Newcastle, so confident was he that the points were in the bag.

Liverpool: (4-4-2) James, Kvarme, McAteer, McManaman, Leonhardsen, Fowler (Riedle, 85), Redknapp (Berger, 85), Harkness, Ince (Carragher, 85), Owen, Matteo.

Subs not used: Babb, Friedel.

Leeds: (4-4-2) Martyn, Kelly, Robertson, Haaland, Wetherall, Wallace, Hasselbaink, Ribeiro, Hopkin, Halle, Molenaar.

Subs not used: Bowyer, Beeney, Lilley, Kewell, Maybury.

Booked: Ribeiro.

Attendance: 43,854.

Referee: S J Lodge (Barnsley).

Copyright - Press Association

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