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Liverpool ease past Leverkusen
March 10, 2005 03:22 IST
Last Updated: March 10, 2005 03:50 IST
Champions League pre-quarter-finals
Liverpool produced a vintage European display to reach the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday with two Luis Garcia goals leading them to a 3-1 win at the BayArena and a 6-2 aggregate victory.
The four-times European champions went ahead in the 28th minute when Garcia flicked in a Steven Gerrard cross to ease their nerves after Leverkusen's late goal at Anfield in a 3-1 defeat had given the Germans a glimmer of hope.
Garcia, the Spanish forward signed from Barcelona, got the final touch on an Igor Biscan header to make it 2-0 after 32 minutes and virtually settle the tie.
Leverkusen pressed hard at the start of the second half but Milan Baros added a third in the 67th minute and Liverpool made it through to the last eight at a stroll, despite an 88th minute consolation from Jacek Krzynowek.
Liverpool were knocked out by Leverkusen in the quarter-finals in 2002, despite winning the home leg, and after Franca's last-gasp goal in the first match of this season's tie they must have been concerned about history repeating itself.
There was never a hint of a comeback this time, as Liverpool, playing with the expertise that made them one of Europe's great clubs in the 1970s and 80s, kept the ball away from their frustrated opponents for the opening 20 minutes.
Leverkusen stuck to attacking down the wings and their tenacity brought them two chances midway through the half.
Daniel Bierofka set up Landon Donovan for a clear shot in the 23rd minute but the American completely missed his kick.
Incredibly, Franca also failed to connect with his shot a couple of minutes later after Dimitar Berbatov's header had set him up with a great opportunity.
Three minutes later, Liverpool were a goal up.
The visitors won a corner when Gerrard's low drive was turned round the post by Hans-Joerg Butt. Leverkusen cleared it but Gerrard, receiving the ball on the right, drifted in a cross for Garcia to touch in.
Liverpool effectively settled the issue four minutes later with Garcia's second. This time, Gerrard produced an outswinging corner and Garcia steered the ball in from Biscan's header.
Franca made a mess of a half-volley attempt at the start of the second half after Bierofka had done well to pick him out.
Jerzy Dudek then did well to keep out a powerful Franca shot but Leverkusen were giving up hope and Baros, taking advantage of a gaping hole at the back, calmly slotted in the third.
Krzynowek's late strike made no dent on Liverpool's joy.Leverkusen pressed hard at the start of the second half but Milan Baros added a third in the 67th minute and Liverpool, the four-times European Champions, made it through to the last eight at a stroll.
An 88th minute consolation goal for Leverkusen from a shot from the edge of the box by Jacek Krzynow made no dent on Liverpool's joy.