Soltvedt punishes careless Owen
By Jon Brodkin at The Dell
A last minute goal from Trond Egil Soldvedt knocked Liverpool out of the Worthington Cup last night as an unusually proflagate Michael Owen passed up a succession of gilt-edged chances to settle the tie.
Soldvedt burst onto a Kevin Davies through ball to steer the ball past Brad Friedal in the visitors' goal. While the Norwegian celebrated, the England striker hung his head, ruing his miss from eight yards with five minutes to go.
This competition will have held bad memories for several Liverpool players even before last night. It was two days after a home defeat by Tottenham in the fourth round last season that Roy Evans ended his 34-year association with the club. If Gerard Houllier had no need to fear for his job, he presumably felt a good incentive to win.
His team selection, like Southampton's, showed he was treating the game seriously, and those who tuned in on Sky must have expected boundless entertainment. Southampton's three previous live television appearances had produced 19 goals.
Not surprisingly, there were a healthy smattering of first-half opportunities. Paul Jones was forced off his line inside three minutes to deny Erik Meijerwhile Hassan Kachloul went close with a header for Southampton.
But it was Liverpool who looked the more accomplished side. Not long after Jones had made a double save from Sammy Hyypia's shot and Owen's looping header, Owen was again wasteful, lifting a close-range shot over the bar.
Typically, Owen made no mistake when presented with his next chance - by far the most difficult - to score his 50th Liverpool goal in 93 appearances. A loose pass by Dean Richards gave him the chance and the England striker burst into the penalty area and struck a low shot into the bottom corner.
If Richards was feeling embarrassed by his error he atoned in the 67th minute by heading the home side's equaliser. Le Tissier swung over a free-kick and the centre-half nodded unmarked past Brad Friedel. But it was Soldvedt who had the last laugh.
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