Reds reach final

30 mins: Paddy Kenny comes up for a Sheffield United corner. There's a franatic scramble in the Liverpool penalty area and Hyypia clears. The referee blows for full-time. After a reasonably absorbing encounter, Liverpool have won a berth in the Worthington Cup final.

I'd patronise Sheffield United to within an inch of their lives for their plucky efforts but unfortunately, I haven't time. Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the alickadoos on Sky Sports Two.

Suffice to say they played well, but never really looked like winning tonight. Of course the same could be said of the first leg, but that didn't stop them coming out on top. Thanks for your time and your e-mails, and don't forget to tune in tomorrow for Blackburn v Manchester United.

28 mins: It's back to that time-travel riff again, with this excellent observation: "You might be four minutes ahead of Radio 5 Live, but you are also four minutes behind," writes Harinder Braich. "Because of this, Gerard Houllier could read that site and counter Warnock's attempts to gain advantage by reading your site. It's a bit like the Terminator movies, with managers going back and forth in time to kill each other."

27 mins: "Is Robert Page the son of an unholy intra-Led Zep dalliance?" asks Rolf from Sweden, which is quite funny, because the number of times I've almost called him Robert Plant tonight beggars belief. Time is almost up for the Blades.

24 mins: Michael Owen tees himself up for a shot and pulls the trigger from close range. Kenny dives to his left and saves brilliantly.

22 mins: Gerrard's attempt at a 50 yard pile-driver is deflected for a corner. From the corner, he brings a smart save out of Kenny with another effort. Sheffield United break and the ball comes to Ndlovu in the middle of the Liverpool half. He prods it just a bit too far ahead of Stuart McCall who has sprinted the entire length of the pitch to try his luck. Kirkland gathers.

19 mins Sheffield United have 11 minutes left to nab the goal that will enable them to take their chance in a penalty shoot-out. Don't rule it out. Kenny smothers an attempt from Steven Gerrard, who has really perked up in injury time. Unlike my computer, which keeps freezing to do "cache cleanups". Whatever the hell they are.

17 mins GOAL: Liverpool 2 - 0 Sheffield United Well, what are the, eh, odds of that happening. Steven Gerrard picks out Mickey Owen with a peach of a long pass. the young gambler gambols down on goal and buries the ball past the despairing Paddy Kenny.

Second half 16 min: Neil Warnock brings on Paul Peschisolido for Wayne Allison. If I had more time, I'd think of a joke about Michael Owen rushing over to bet on Sheffield's last throw of the dice. Sadly, the clock is ticking.

Half-time in extra time

15 + 1 Michael Owen cuts inside the box and shoots against the foot of the near post. A poor decision, as Kenny had all the angles covered.

14 mins: Phil Jagielka makes a crucial interception on a cross-field pass from Gerrard to Owen. We're about to enter first-half injury time in extra time of this Worthington Cup semi final second leg. Try saying that 10 times very quickly.

13 mins: Michael Owen turns the Sheffield United defence inside out and then gets the ball caught under his feet when you'd have, em, bet your mock tudor mansion on him scoring a wonderful goal.

10 mins: Both teams are huffing and puffing, but nothing particularly noteworthy has happened since the start of extra time. That doesn't stop me noting things, mind.

9 mins: Cheyrou floats one up in the direction of Murphy on the edge of the box, but Sheffield United clear.

6 mins: Alan Wiley tells Shaun Murphy to go off the pitch to clean himself up and Neil Warnock goes ballistic on the touchline, because Sheffield United have a corner to defend. It looks like Murphy's a bleeder - his nose is still pumping. Two wedged cotton balls later, he saunters back on.

5 mins: Smicer goes off and is replaced by Bruno Cheyrou. Meanwhile, Shaun Murphy is getting a nosebleed staunched after a clash with Emile Heskey.

2 mins: Jagielka lofts one into the Liverpool box and Hyppia clears. Jagielka crosses again, Ndlovu beats Hyypia to it and dinks his pass high along the edge of the six-yard box. Robert Page performs serious aerial gymnastics to make contact, but his header goes narrowly wide.

1 min Owen gets away from page, but Stuart McCall is there to clear his cross. He's played a blinder for Sheffield United tonight, providing cover for the two centre backs.

Extra time

90 + 2 mins The referee blows for extra time. If the score is still 2 - 2 after 30 minutes of extra time, Liverpool will go through to the final on away goals.

90 mins: My apologies for the delays, but my computer hasn't been fixed since I asked our egg-heads to look at it 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 month(s) ago.

88 mins: Wayne Allison and Chris Kirkland go for a high ball on the edge of the Liverpool box. Although he was clearly obstructed, a free is given against the Liverpool 'keeper and to add insult to injury, he gets booked for handling outside the penalty area. Sheffield United have a free right on the edge of the penalty area. Tommy Mooney buries it into the wall and it's almost deflected in off Stephane Henchoz.

85 mins: "I once saw Tommy Mooney at Watford dressed like an extra from that awful Kevin Costner film The Untouchables," writes Steph, apropos nothing. "He acted like his suit - crass, flash and crap." So, he didn't return your calls then?

84 mins: Michael Owen shouts for a penalty after scooping the ball on to the left hand of Wayne Quinn. His appeal falls on deaf ears and it looks like the correct decision.

83 mins: John Arne Riise horses in a long throw which Sheffield United clear.

80 mins: El Hadji Diouf shoots wide. My computer decides to start freezing every minute or two.

77 mins: Owen threads a lovely ball into Heskey on the edge of the six-yard box. Without breaking stride, he latches onto it and his shot is blocked by a brilliant Shaun Murphy tackle.

76 mins: Stuart McCall concedes a corner as El Hadji Diouf tries to wriggle inside him. (Oh behave!)

75 mins: Michael Brown picks out Tommy Mooney with a neat pass and the substitute attempts to curl one into the top right-hand corner. Wide.

73 mins: Owen cuts inside from the right and finds John Arne Riise, who tees it up for Steven Gerrard. He blasts a great chance over the bar, courtesy of a deflection off Wayne Quinn's backside.

68 mins: Liverpool have adopted a more positive approach, unmlike some of our readers. "I think its a bit early to start gloating," writes the splendidly monikered John R Barrington. "Now that Alan Green has taken over the commentary on Radio 5 Live they seem to be catching up with you. Alan also agrees with you about this whole Fifa rule about going off and come back on."

Well it's easy for him John. All he has to do is whinge about Sir Alex Ferguson and make fun of Vladimir Smicer. Noble pursuits both, I have to say, but it takes longer for me to type than it takes him to whine, even if I do have a four minute and 11 second head start.

66 mins: Smicer eludes Jagielka down the left wing (no, really) but is robbed. The ball comes to Steven Gerrard who crosses beautifully from the right wing. The cross is a peach, but there's nobody there to get on the end of it. Gerrard is furious.

62 mins: Liverpool break up the right courtesy of the Gambolling Gambler, and Kenny does well to dispossess him. Owen gets a second bite of the cherry, and passes the ball into the box with Kenny stranded in no-mans land. Shaun Murphy boots it clear.

61 mins: Under no pressure whatsoever, El Hadji Diouf boots a ball into the sky from the right-back position. That says it all really. Sheffield United still have Liverpool penned into their own box. Michael Brown puts in a beautiful cross which is disputed by Jagielka and Kirkland and bounces clear. No Sheffield United player attacks it and it's cleared.

59 mins: It's all Sheffield United at the moment. Predictably enough, Liverpool are sitting back and happy to bore everyone to tears by wellying clearances in the general direction of Michael Owen. Some day they'll realise why they're no good and revert to the style of play that used to win them trophies.

57 mins: Sheffield United win a free on the left flank after Steven Gerrard upends Michael Brown, who proceeds to curl in a purler which Kirkland is forced to tip over the bar. From the corner, Liverpool clear.

53 mins: This, from Matt Moden: "Barry, you spelt Temazepam wrong earlier, you monkey! I should know because I used to make pop videos for Shuan Ryder and Black Grape." Fair enough Matt, but you should know that I was spelling it in its Irish (Gaelic) form. Anyway, at least I know how to spell Shaun. Back at the game, Sheffield, who are playing considerably better in this half than they did in the first, try to counter. Robert Page, the best Blade of the night so far, is hobbling uncomfortably.

50 mins: Sheffield United win a free about 15 yards outside the Liverpool box. Wayne Quinn's delivery is poor and it's headed clear. At the far end, Vladimir Smicer chickens out of a one-on-one with Paddy Kenny in the Sheffield United goal. What a wuss.

48 mins: Sami Hyypia concedes a free for attempting to mount Wayne Allison. Brown crosses from the right, but Kirkland collects. He chucks the ball to Michael Owen, who gets flatteneded by the flapping arms of Robert Page. Alan Wiley gives him a ticking off, but no booking.

47 mins: El Hadji Diouf dilly-dallies over another opportunity to shoot from close range, allowing Wayne Quinn to tackle him. Jamie Carragher has had five stitches inserted in the head-wound he sustained in the first half. I can never understand how athletes can continue playing after getting a clatter of stitches. I got 12 stsitches in my back once and took to the bed for a week.

46 mins: The teams emerge for the second half, which is good. (It'd be a debacle match if they didn't). Liverpool kick off and are playing into the Kop end.

45 + 3 Half-time

45 + 2 Riise crosses low and hard for Heskey, who gets a yard on Page and pokes the ball this wide. Don't be greedy Emile, you got your goal for this year last weekend. As it stands, the game will go into extra time. However, if the score remains the same after extra time, Liverpool will go through on away goals. Sheffield United will have to score to make the Worthington Cup final.

45 mins: There'll be three minutes of added time in the first half.

40 mins: Here's a theory re: the GU Football v Radio 5 Live space-time continuum. If Neil Warnock reads my minute-by-minute report, surely he can then tell his players about mistakes that are going to be made before they're made on Five Live. With time travel at his disposal, he can have no excuses if the Blades lose this tie. Meanwhile back in the future, Nick Montgomery goes down injured. He's holding his ankle and shaking his head. Moments later, he's stretchered off and replaced by Tommy Mooney, who's only just joined the club on a three-month loan spell from Birmingham.

39 mins: Sheffield United win a corner which Quinn whips in. Jagielka beats Jamie Carragher in the air and his excellent header is mere inches wide. Unlucky.

35 mins: Diouf attempts to skin Wayne Quinn down the right flank. Quinn, in turn, attempts to rip the shirt from his back and sees yellow for his troubles. BJ Hughes has asked me to say hello to his mate Michael L Smith, who used to work on Redondo beach. Would you ever sod off BJ! It's [email protected] you should be mailing, because this isn't a request show. Steven Gerrard does something but I'm not sure what because I was trying to be funny. I'll tune in to Radio 5 Live and let you know what he did in four minutes and 11 seconds.

33 mins: Gerrard finds Owen with a long ball from inside his own half (no shock there). Owen attempts to control it and bear down on goal, but Welsh international Robert Page gets across to save his side with an excellent tackle.

29 mins: Several of you have mailed in to tell me that my commentary is exactly four minutes and 11 seconds ahead of BBC Radio 5 Live. Amazing! nobody's ever complained about me going too fast before. Far be it from me to make predictions, but I'll wager that in approximately three-and-a-half minutes, Alan Green will say that Vladimir Smicer has just picked up his fifth yellow card of the season for a clumsy lunge on Robert Page. Then he'll meither on about how useless Smicer is, because he always does. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken record, that bloke. He's like a broken rec ...

26 mins: El Hadji Diouf half-volleys a Michael Owen cross on the edge of the six-yard box. It goes over Paddy Kenny's head and rattles the crossbar. Close, but no cigar.

23 mins: Colin Montgomery gets penalised for barging into Sami Hyypia in the Sheffield United box. Shame really, as it meant Peter Ndlovu's spectacular bicycle kick wouldn't have counted. If had gone in, that is, rather than 40 metres over the bar. Interesting fact: Peter Ndlovu is the only visiting player to have scored a hat-trick at Anfield for the last 41 years. He was wearing the sky blue of Coventry at the time.

21 mins: Peter Ndlovu goes down in a heap, the victim of a meaty Jamie Carragher challenge. Crunch! He receives treatment, runs off the field and stands waiting for permission to go back on. It was definitely a slow day in Fifa HQ when they dreamed up that rule.

18 mins: Just like in the first leg, Sheffield United haven't settled into this match yet. Shaun Murphy is a case in point. Liverpool's goal came about as a result of his reluctance to head an incoming ball under pressure from Michael Owen. Instead, he chose to let it fly past him before attempting to beat Owen for speed. Big mistake.

16 mins: Referee Alan Wiley drops an uncontested ball and Liverpool give possession to Sheffield United. They launch a bomb up the field and Ndlovu sees a half-chance saved by Kirkland.

14 mins: Jamie Carragher and Michael Brown clatter into each other and clash heads. The referee stops play so that both players can get patched up.

11 mins: In case you're wondering, this tie will be decided on away goals after extra time only. Sheffield United win a throw deep inside the Liverpool half. Phil Jagielka hoists in a long one and somebody - I think Michael Brown - lobs in a header that Kirkland has to pluck from the air as it drops under the crossbar.

7 mins: GOAL: Liverpool 1 - 0 Sheffield United A defensive error by Shaun Murphy allows Owen to shoot and bring a fine save out of Kenny. Heskey lays the rebound off to El Hadji Diouf, who drills it low and hard inside the left-hand post from the edge of the box.

5 mins: Jamie Carragher flattens Tonge with the kind of tackle Big Ron Atkinson calls "a reducer". Introductions between the pair over, Sheffield United take their throw. The ball is crossed in and Kirkland comes for it before changing his mind. Wayne "The Chief" Allison squanders a free header. A superb chance, he should have scored.

4 mins: That really was an appalling miss by Diouf, who attempts to thread one through to Owen. Sadly, the gambolling gambler is offside.

2 mins: Nick Montgomery and Michael Brown are man-marking Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy respectively. Michael Owen lays it off to an unmarked Diouf on the right hand side of the box. In acres of space, he dithers over it and fails to get a shot in. Liverpool win a corner. It's swung in and Brown clears for a Liverpool throw.

1 min: As they lined up in the tunnel, the opposing goalkeepers, Kirkland and Kenny were having a great chat altogether. And why not, sure aren't all goalkeepers stone-hatchet mad. Daft as brushes, in fact. (Although there'll never be a more appropriate time for a John "Budgie" Burridge anecdote, I'm afraid I'll have to let the moment bypass me as I can't remember any. Anyway, they're off. Liverpool win the toss and Sheffield United kick off and get the second leg of this Worthington Cup semi-final soap opera under way.

Previously in the Liverpool v Sheffield United Worthington Cup semi-final ...

Liverpool went ahead through Neil Mellor and should probably have won a scrappy encounter at their leisure. However, they were sent reeling late doors by two Michael Tonge sucker-punches which, along with a tasty Wayne Quinn "reducer" on Chris Kirkland, sent Gerard Houllier's Zanussi washing machine eyes into super turbo spin-cycle overdrive. His assistant, Phil Thompson, was equally rattled, and was last spotted balling his fists and stamping his feet on the Bramall Lane touchline screeching "Wait 'til we get youse back to Anfield!" like a demented scally on Temazepam.

Meanwhile, Blades boss Neil Warnock was doing his utmost to prove that old adage that the only thing worse than a bad loser is a bad winner. And how! Looking indescribably smug he rubbed salt in the Liverpool wounds by telling anyone who'd listen that his team only cost £600,000, compared to the £100 million his French counterpart had shelled out on his collection of well-heeled, wingerless hoofers. And while it has to be said that the man gave good point, his comments prompted no end of inter-gaffer needle for the amusement of football fans everywhere.

A massively entertaining war of words between the two bosses ensued as they devoted their every waking hour to thinking up new and more innovative ways of subtly dissing each other's tactics, players, mothers and sisters. Well, not quite. Thankfully, an 8 Mile-esque B Rabbit v Lickety Spit MC stand-off was avoided, and the managers will settle their differences from the dugout, just as god intended.

So, the time for Scousily screeching "Wait 'til we get youse back to Anfield!" is over and Sheffield United carry a one-goal advantage into a mouthwatering second leg. And while Neil Warnock has told the press that his side will probably get tonked tonight, you can bet your bottom dollar (Michael Owen probably has) that's not what he'll be saying to his charges in the dressing room before the game.

Ultimately, if the match itself is even half as entertaining and amusing as its build-up, we could have a right humdinger in store: goals galore, no end of bone-crunching tackles and a sending-off or two for good measure.

And to think some people think the Worthington Cup is an irrelevence.

The teams

Liverpool: Kirkland, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Diouf, Murphy, Gerrard, Smicer, Heskey, Owen.
Subs: Dudek, Baros, Diao, Cheyrou, Mellor.

Sheff Utd: Kenny, Jagielka, Murphy, Page, Quinn, Montgomery, Brown, McCall, Tonge, Ndlovu, Allison. B
Subs: Kozluk, Peschisolido, Ten Heuvel, de Vogt, Mooney.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire)

Copyright - The Guardian

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