Liverpool survive Roma onslaught

Liverpool survived a frenzied Italian fightback to claim their place in the quarter finals of the Uefa Cup.

The home side defended deep and with determination, but could not prevent substitute Gianni Guigou from grabbing a second-half lifeline for the visitors.

Key moments
19 mins: Marco Delvecchio wastes a glorious opening for Roma, shooting wide with just the keeper to beat
35 mins: Christian Ziege's free kick forces Antonioli into a brilliant low save
37 mins: Owen fires wide from just inside the Roma penalty area
60 mins: Antonioli saves Owen's penalty after Jonathan Zebina fouls Heskey
70 mins: Uruguayan sub Guigou beats Westerveld with a left-foot screamer
77 mins: Roma appear to have been awarded a penalty after Babbel's handball, but the referee changes his mind
Damiano Tomassi is sent off for a second booking
Guigou's curling 25-yard curling shot brought the Italians back into the match, but Liverpool survived on the back of an incredible refereeing decision.

Jose Maria-Garcia-Aranda awarded Roma a penalty as Marcus Babbel was ruled to have handled in the area, then incredibly changed his mind to leave Liverpool hanging on by their fingernails.

After their superb performance in Rome a week earlier, Liverpool had been in something of a dilemma from the start.

Reluctant to commit too much to attack in search of a killer goal, Gerard Houllier's side were also determined not to defend too deeply.

"It was a penalty, the referee pointed to the spot twice and then he changed his mind and I don't know why" - Roma coach Fabio Capello

That meant few early openings for the front pair of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen and it was the depleted visitors who asked the opening questions.
Already without Totti, Cafu, Emerson and the suspended Amedeo Mangone, Roma were also only able to hand Batistuta a place on the substitute's bench.

But, even without such a wealth of talent in their starting line-up, Roma should have reduced the aggregate deficit midway through the first half.

Stephane Henchoz was caught running forward and, as the ball eluded him, Marco Delvecchio was presented with a glorious opening.

"I don't think we showed as much character as we did over there. Some of the boys are a bit young and should not have been involved in some silly situations" - boss Gerard Houllier
But, with only Sander Westerveld to beat, Delvecchio dragged a left-foot shot well wide.

Other than that, Liverpool did well to stifle the visitors and Houllier's side finally had an opening of their own 10 minutes before half time.

Ziege's swerving free kick eluded everyone and bounced viciously in front of Antonioli, who did superbly to get down and push the ball to safety.

Just before the break, Michael Owen finally had a sniff of goal as he was presented with an opening as inviting as that of Delvecchio.

But, as Roma pushed forward in search of an offside decision, Owen also spurned the opportunity as he drilled a shot across the face of Antonioli's goal.

But if that was a wasted chance, then Owen's penalty miss on the hour proved the real turning point.

Jonathan Zebina was ruled to have tugged back Heskey and Owen, the two-goal hero of the first leg was quick to elect himself as penalty taker.

The striker looked confident, but his spot kick lacked power and was comfortably beaten away by Antonioli.

The Italians sensed a reprieve and began streaming forward in a bid to break down Liverpool's ever-retreating rearguard.

The breakthrough came 20 minutes from time when substitute Guigou found space down the left and fired a wicked swerving left-foot shot which gave Westerveld little chance.

By now, Roma's probing was relentless and they appeared to have been given the chance to force extra time 12 minutes from time.

Vincenzo Montella's cross struck Babbel on the elbow and referee Aranda instantly pointed to the penalty spot.

But, as substitute Gabriel Batistuta ran to fetch the ball and take the spot kick, Aranda appeared to change his mind.

Roma protested furiously and the surrounded referee reacted by frantically waving a yellow card in the direction of any player who came near him.

Damiano Tomassi was amongst them and his yellow soon turned to red when he was sent off for a foul on Ziege as Roma's frustrations understandably boiled over.

Liverpool, to their immense credit, kept calm amid some frantic Italian tackling and their discipline was a vital factor as they held on to claim a place in the last eight.


Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Ziege, Babbel, Hyppia, Hamann, McAllister, Barmby, Carragher, Owen, Heskey.

AS Roma: Antonioli, Zago, Assuncao, Nakata, Montella, Zebina, Tomassi, Samuel, Rinaldi, Delvecchio, Candela.

Referee: Jose Maria-Garcia-Aranda (Spain)

Copyright - BBC

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