Owen The Late Hero For Reds  (Sky Sports)

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 0

Michael Owen
Liverpool  1-0 Chelsea
Owen 90     
Barclaycard Premiership


History repeated itself as Michael Owen pounced in the last minute to pile more misery on Chelsea.

The England watmed up for Slovakia by stabbing home 50 seconds from the end to keep Liverpool within two points of Premiership leaders Arsenal.

Last season Vladimir Smicer's last-gasp strike sank the Blues on Merseyside but just when they were in desperate need of the lift a point would have brought, Owen pounced to break the deadlock.

Liverpool, perhaps lethargic after their Champions League spanking of Spartak Moscow, needed a little luck though as they finally found a way through a Blues rearguard battered in Norway, yet back to to its best.

As the Reds searched patiently for a last-minute path to goal, Salif Diao was clattered by a great tackle from Emmanuel Petit in the centre circle but cruelly the ball squirted into the path of Emile Heskey bearing down on goal.

Even then Chelsea thought they had survived as Carlo Cudici flipped his effort onto the post, but there was Owen, back on the Premiership goal trail to bang the rebound in from a matter of inches.

It left the visitors, and man of the match William Gallas in particular, devastated. They had travelled north desperate to restore the pride that took such a battering at the hands of Viking in the UEFA Cup.

And although they offered little up front other than a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink effort that was dragged well wide and a tame Frank Lampard header, they defended superbly as Liverpool pushed and probe, needing to keep up with the ominous pace set by Arsenal earlier.

They did have the best chance of a muted first half from the unlikely boot of Sami Hyypia. Chelsea cleared yet another cross and as it dropped some 35 yards out, the Finn thumped a thunderous volley that Cudicini did well to tip over the top.

Hasselbaink stayed in the dressing room at half-time adding fuel to the Barcelona fire, and with Gianfranco Zola and Eidur Gudjohnsen becoming increasingly isolated up front and Jesper Gronkjaer failing to find the crosses to compliment his regular roasting of John Arne Riise, Liverpool pressed on.

Cudicini kept them at bay again when Steven Gerrard picked up on a blocked free kick and fizzed a 25-yard drive towards the keeper's top left-hand corner. The fingertip was slight, but it was enough to send the ball crashing onto the bar and away to safety.

It looked to be enough, but the same routine from the keeper went Liverpool's way in the dying seconds, Owen providing the worst possible ending to the worst possible week for Ken Bates and co.

MAN OF THE MATCH: William Gallas (Chelsea): Scooped the Sky Sports champers for a fine display alongside Desailly. His dismay at the final whistle showed just how much he'd put in.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Henchoz (Traore 40), Hyypia, Riise, Murphy (Diao 75), Hamann, Gerrard, Cheyrou (Baros 71), Owen, Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Diouf, Kirkland.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Desailly, Gallas, Le Saux, Stanic (Morris 45), Petit, Lampard, Gronkjaer, Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen 45), Zola.
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Zenden, Terry.
Booked: Stanic, Gronkjaer.

Att: 43,856
Ref: G Barber (Hertfordshire)

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