Liverpool lift Worthington Cup
Liverpool lifted the clouds from their troubled season by beating Manchester United to win the Worthington Cup in Cardiff.
Steven Gerrard's first half goal - deflected off David Beckham - proved decisive at The Millennium Stadium.
Michael Owen's second on the break four minutes from time set the seal on a triumphant afternoon for Liverpool's much-criticised boss Gerard Houllier.
But Liverpool's hero was goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who performed brilliantly to keep Sir Alex Ferguson's side at bay.
Dudek suffered a nightmare when he presented Diego Forlan with a goal in United's win at Anfield earlier this season.
But he exorcised his demons in brilliant style as he proved the cornerstone of Liverpool's win.
It is a great feeling - beautiful
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
Manchester United's injury worries eased, leaving Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Wes Brown fit to take their places.
The opening stages were sterile, with both sides sparring and little goalmouth action.
United almost broke the deadlock after 21 minutes following a typical sweeping move.
Scholes released Giggs, and his cross was touched inches wide of the far post by the lurking Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Liverpool came out of their defensive shell as the first half progressed, and Owen posted the warning signals for United with a darting run that required a diving block from Fabien Barthez.
And the Merseysiders were ahead six minutes before the interval with a goal that owed a little to a slice of good fortune.
Gerrard took advantage of Beckham's failure to close him down to fire in a shot from 25 yards which took a crucial deflection off the England captain and looped over Barthez.
The deciding factor was Liverpool's goalkeeper - Jerzy Dudek was magnificent
Man utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Liverpool had an astonishing escape on the stroke of half-time, when Dudek first blocked Juan Sebastian Veron's shot.
The rebound fell to Scholes, whose goalbound block was turned over the bar by Stephane Henchoz from virtually under the crossbar.
United, as they had to do, pressed forward and Liverpool were grateful to Dudek's instinctive reaction to deny Van Nistelrooy on the hour.
Liverpool were then forced into a change when Emile Heskey limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Milan Baros.
Watch a round up of the Worthington Cup final
As the game opened up, Barthez kept United alive with a brilliant close range save from Gerrard after Baros had caught United on the counter attack.
Suddenly the game was alive and Dudek was in action again seconds later to deny Scholes.
As United poured forward Dudek saved brilliantly again from Van Nistelrooy again with Liverpool living on a knife edge.
Liverpool then struck in typical fashion, Dietmar Hamann releasing Owen to beat Barthez to seal the victory.
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