|Saturday 24th January 2004
LIVERPOOL 2-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED
|MATCH REPORT - Liverpool 2-1 Newcastle United|
Cheyrou 2, 61
Bruno Cheyrou has been almost a joke figure at Anfield such has been his struggle to come to terms with life in the Premier League.
But the Frenchman grabbed two goals in this pulsating FA Cup fourth round to send Liverpool's confidence soaring and book them a place in the last 16.
Cheyrou must have at times left boss Gerard Houllier in despair, but the Anfield chief has stuck by the misfit midfielder and seen him reward Liverpool with four goals in the last five matches.
And it could just turn around Liverpool's fragile, erratic season.
Criticised by Houllier for lacking nerve in a worrying draw at Wolves in midweek, the Reds' response was emphatic and they produced their best home display of the season.
Newcastle, behind after just 71 seconds to Cheyrou's first effort, fought back with a stunning free-kick equaliser from Laurent Robert and then took the game to their hosts to underline their own current form that had seen them come into the game beaten only once in 12 and with five successive away games undefeated.
Those sort of statistics may have unnerved the home support, who have witnessed so much indifferent form this term, but Liverpool's stars answered their boss' criticism and grew in confidence by the minute to claim what could be a watershed victory.
Liverpool's side was no surprise, with Croatian defender Igor Biscan axed.
He had been heavily criticised for his performance in last weekend's defeat at Tottenham but held his place, until half-time, at Wolves on Wednesday.
It meant Stephane Henchoz was finally restored to central defence, while Newcastle retained the side that were so impressive in beating Fulham on Monday, Jonathan Woodgate recovering from a groin strain.
The Kop were roaring after just 71 seconds when Liverpool stormed ahead. Cheyrou and Michael Owen to release Emile Heskey into the box and, although his shot was saved by the diving Shay Given, Cheyrou followed up to score with an angled shot into an empty net.
Newcastle's response was emphatic, and the Kop was silenced two minutes later.
Newcastle gained a free-kick some 35 yards out on the left, and Robert lashed an astonishing left footer high into the far top corner.
Cue uproar at the Geordie end even though Jerzy Dudek seemed slow to react.
Robert is in sensational form at the moment, it was his fifth goal in nine games and he is certainly specialising in the spectacular.
The pace dipped for a spell, but Jermaine Jenas was next to go close, powering in on a Nolberto Solano corner to send a header flying just wide.
Liverpool hit back. Owen had a half chance saved by Given, then almost jinked his way past Andy O'Brien before Gerrard saw a 20 yarder deflected wide.
But it was Newcastle's better, quicker, more inventive midfield play that began to give them control. Jenas, neat and alert, Gary Speed, competitive and reliable, plus Solano's work on the right, always threatened a further breakthrough.
The excellent Jenas tested Dudek from 18 yards, as Newcastle maintained a grip on possession that forced Liverpool deep, something they need little invitation to do.
And while Liverpool needed more awareness from Harry Kewell, Newcastle had the roving menace of Kieron Dyer in support of Alan Shearer.
Liverpool replaced Heskey with the youthful talents of Anthony Le Tallec at the break, the Frenchman out on the right but clearly allowed to roam and support a hard pressed midfield.
Liverpool were now trying to compete on the deck by playing the ball into Owen's feet and slowly the tide began to turn.
Gerrard's break on the left needed a better pass to set up Owen, although the England striker rescued the ball and provided Dietmar Hamann with a chance to test Given, as did Steve Finnan as he battled his way into the box.
And that avenue for Gerrard to attack down the left produced another goal for Cheyrou on 61 minutes. He checked onto his right foot to deliver an inviting cross and Cheyrou raced in to power a header past Given.
Liverpool had clearly decided to attack the Newcastle full backs, who can both be over-ambitious at times and leave space to exploit.
On 68 minutes Newcastle took off Solano and sent on Shola Ameobi to give Shearer greater support.
Le Tallec saw a flicked header from Gerrard's corner go wide, with Newcastle sagging a little.
Jamie Carragher from distance and Sami Hyypia with a flying header maintained the pressure on Newcastle.
But Newcastle were never going to lay down and in injury time Shearer turned brilliantly and produced a powerful shot on the turn that forced a great save from Dudek.
Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Heskey (Le Tallec 45), Gerrard, Hamann, Kewell, Cheyrou, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Murphy, Riise, Biscan.
Newcastle: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Woodgate, Bernard, Solano (Ameobi 68), Jenas, Speed, Robert, Dyer, Shearer.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ambrose, Bramble, Viana.
Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
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|Match Report filed: 25th January 2003|