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Thursday 14 September 2000 19:00  Rapid (Bucharest, Romania)  -  Liverpool  0 - 1  UEFA Cup 1st Round 1st Leg
Thursday 14 September 2000 19:00 UEFA Cup 1st Round 1st Leg
"Rapid" 0 - 1 "Liverpool"
     Barmby 29
Team: 1. Razvan Lucescu, 21. Dorel Mutica, 2. Nicolae Stanciu, 23. Mihai Adrian Iencsi, 4. Cornel Frasineanu, 10. Daniel Iftodi, 25. Daniel Isaila, 17. Marius Maldarasanu, 7. Cornel Buta, 16. Nicolae Constantin, 19. Daniel Pancu..

Subs: 12. Florin Radulescu, 5. Daniel Chirita, 6. Florin Constantinovici, 18. Zeno Bundea, 13. Mihai Buga, 20. Constantin Schumacher, 11. Sergiu Marian Radu.
  Team: 1. Sander Westerveld, 23. Jamie Carragher (c), 2. Stephane Henchoz, 6. Markus Babbel, 3. Christian Ziege, 4. Rigobert Song, 20. Nick Barmby, 24. Bernard Diomede, 16. Dietmar Hamann, 10. Michael Owen, 8. Emile Heskey.

Subs: 19. Pegguy Arphexad, 14. Vegard Heggem, 31. Frode Kippe, 30. Djimi Traore, 13. Danny Murphy, 18. Erik Meijer, 9. Robbie Fowler.
 Buta (Schumacher 46), Constantin (Radu 60), Iftodi (Buga 73)    Heskey (Murphy 34), Owen (Fowler 80), Ziege (Traore 84)
Referee: Nicolai Volquartz (Denmark)
 Booked: Lucescu 74, Schumacher 82    Booked: Henchoz
Stadionul Giulesti (capacity )
Attendance: 9,782
  Anghel Iordanescu (Rapid B)
Gerard Houllier (Liverpool)


  - Bernard Diomede makes his LFC debut

  - Nick Barmby scores his first goal for LFC

  Rapid livewire Frasinenu shot over the bar before the break and Iftodi saw his 25-yard free-kick blocked by the wall after Stephane Henchoz was adjudged to have brought down Pancu, who himself blazed over from the rebound.

  Rapid coach Anghel Iordanescu had to change things around if his side were to claw their way back in the second half and he brought on Schumacher for Buta immediately after the interval ?but it was Liverpool who came closer to making an impact.

  Owen had a chance to wrap up the tie seven minutes after the break. Barmby was this time the provider but the striker saw his weak effort easily stopped by the relieved Lucescu.

  Rapid went in search of the equaliser but, despite moments of enterprising play, their finishing and general showing in the last third was poor.

  A fine crossfield ball from the excellent Dietmar Hamann picked out Barmby in space on the right. He chipped into the box but Murphy's first-time shot was denied by the keeper's outstretched right hand.

  At the other end, Babbel was called on to make a desperate near-post clearance but it was the Rapid goal living the more charmed life.

  And on 68 minutes Owen fluffed the easiest of chances. Diomede fizzed in a delightful cross to the in-form striker and he looked odds on favourite to finish from three yards but unbelievably failed to make proper contact.

  Rapid brought on Buga and Radu but it was the sight of Robbie Fowler being drafted into the action eight minutes from time that was of most significance to the travelling band of Reds fans.

  It was Fowler's first outing since he limped off in a pre-season clash with Glentoran in Belfast. He didn't have much opportunity to show his true form as he makes his way back to full fitness.

  Liverpool know they must be alert when Rapid visit Anfield for the second leg but, in the final analysis, Barmby's away goal should prove too much for the Romanians to overcome. Houllier's side could have scored more but victory away from home even with a makeshift defence and several injuries ?is pleasing enough.

  So, it's not time to think Liverpool's European glory days are back.

  Not yet, but at least this is a start.

  LIVERPOOL'S England stars at last decided that it was time to start getting their own back on the Romanians.

  Twice in recent years Romania have blighted English soccer by knocking them out of international events ?the most recent being this summer's European Championships.

  And two of those England players who suffered most in the Low Countries Michael Owen and Nicky Barmby ?constructed the goal that gave Liverpool's latest European adventure the right kick-start at the tight little Rapid Stadium.

  Owen, who scored and lost in both those two England disasters, set off on a stunning first half run to beat three men and set up Barmby who also played in that Euro 2000 defeat ?to crash home the fine first-half goal which separated the sides.

  Gerard Houllier's side did not play brilliantly but didn't have to against an average Rapid side ?and should have scored a hatful after the break in this UEFA Cup first-round first-leg clash.

  But the fact that they were so complacent and wasteful at least keeps alive the second leg at Anfield in a fortnight.

  Liverpool's heroes were Owen ?who had an outstanding game up front despite missing two glorious chances ?Barmby, for his running and industry, and Dietmar Hamann for a combative game in midfield.

  But in the end when the game should have been a stroll Liverpool found themselves with their backs to the wall and hanging on for a victory they deserved and should have had wrapped up long before the end.

  Liverpool's injury-ravaged side included Christian Ziege and Bernard Diomede making their first starts for the Anfield club who were finally back in European action after embarrassingly failing to qualify last season.

  This steamy night in Bucharest wasn't quite the Champions League that they crave but it's a start on the long haul they face before they can be considered part of Europe's elite again on current form rather than a glittering history.

  Ziege's inclusion gave Liverpool plenty of attacking options but all too frequently his roamings left massive gaps behind him and created far too many problems for his colleagues.

  Admittedly, he managed a string of dangerous crosses which gave both Emile Heskey and Barmby headed chances that flashed wide.

  But at the other end Rigobert Song had to hack away after Daniele Pancu had got clear into Ziege's left-back spot while Sander Westerveld had to be smart to clutch another cross, this time from Marius Maldarasanu.

  But in all this defensive uncertainty Liverpool still looked more dangerous on the break with Heskey and Owen working well as a partnership.

  The tide was turning in Liverpool's direction when Barmby smashed a 20-yarder against the angle of post and bar while Romania defenders were doing their best to kick Heskey out of the fray.

  One tackle by Dorel Mutica left the big England man limping and he was to be forced out of the match after 35 minutes to be replaced by Danny Murphy.

  But while Liverpool's bench were showing concern about Heskey his striking partner Owen was creating the goal for Barmby after 29 minutes.

  Owen took a pass from Ziege on half way and set off on one of those high-speed trademark runs that took him past three bemused defenders into the heart of the Romanian defence before coolly laying the ball across the box for Barmby to lash into the roof of the net.

  Liverpool had the chances early in the second half to finish off the Romanians.

  On 52 minutes Murphy and Barmby combined neatly to put Owen clear in the box but the sort of chance the little striker has been scoring with his eyes shut recently crept away from him as he allowed Razvan Lucescu to smother his shot.

  Ten minutes later a fine long ball from Hamann put Barmby away on the right and his ball back for Murphy ended with a shot that Lucescu tipped on to the bar and over at full stretch.

  Then Owen missed from just three yards when he failed to get a proper connection on a Diomede cross after 65 minutes.

  At this point Liverpool were cruising through the Romanian defence finding space down both flanks ?and they wasted a big opportunity to bag a hatful of goals.

  The amount of space that Barmby was being allowed on the right along with Owen's intelligent front play presented Liverpool with the opportunity to stamp their authority on the game.

  That they squandered so much good position and possession meant they spent the final minutes on a knife-edge protecting a slender lead that should have been so much bigger.

  RAPID BUCHAREST: Lucescu, Stanciu, Frasineanu, Buta, Iftodi (Buga 73), Constantin (Radu 60), Maldarasanu, Pancu, Mutica, Iencsi, Isaila, Buga (Schumacher 46). Subs: Radulescu, Chirica, Constantinovicr, Bundea.

  LIVERPOOL: Westerveld, Song, Henchoz, Babbel, Ziege (Traore 84), Barmby, Carragher, Hamann, Diomede, Owen (Fowler 80), Heskey (Murphy 35). Subs: Arphexad, Heggem, Meijer, Kippe.

  REFEREE: N Volquartz (Denmark).

  ATT: 12,000.

  © Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

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