|Sunday 15th February 2004
LIVERPOOL 1-1 PORTSMOUTH
|MATCH REPORT - Liverpool 1-1 Portsmouth|
Portsmouth substitute Matthew Taylor snatched an equaliser against Liverpool in their own back yard to force the Reds into a replay at Fratton Park next Sunday, where they will face a real battle to stay in The FA Cup.
Michael Owen may have written himself into the Anfield goalscoring history books with his 150th strike for the club inside two minutes - but Liverpool were made to pay for not sewing up this fifth round tie after dominating possession for much of the game.
Portsmouth had been clinging on for much of a one-sided second half when Taylor, brought into the fray eight minutes earlier, appeared unmarked in the box to lash home an unlikely equaliser and silence the Kop.
How Liverpool did not complete a comfortable victory only they will know.
Steven Gerrard was their driving inspiration, but those around him failed to live up to the energy of the attacking England midfielder.
But while Pompey were only a goal behind there was always the danger they could break and severely embarrass their hosts. And that is exactly what Harry Redknapp's side managed with 13 minutes left.
The visitors, though, were hit by an Owen special just 69 seconds after kick-off.
It came when Gerrard terrorised Eyal Berkovic twice in those opening moments, first robbing him at high speed and then provoking a weak pass which was snapped up and fed on to Harry Kewell after a 20 yard surging run.
Gerrard's next touch played in Owen, who turned eight yards out to coolly take his total for the season into double figures.
That should have been the signal for a goal deluge. Gerrard tried to oblige with a 20-yard free-kick which almost caught out Shaka Hislop.
But Pompey hit back with an effort by Nigel Quashie which drifted a yard wide and then they created a decent chance when Berkovic and Aiyegbeni Yakubu combined to set up Quashie again, but this time his 18-yarder soared over.
Owen was looking really in the mood, and a run down the right ended with a dangerous bouncing cross which was hacked away from Bruno Cheyrou, and then sent a rising drive into the Kop.
Berkovic's runs from midfield caused Liverpool trouble, though, as did the strength and power of Ivica Mornar on the right.
But Liverpool looked more dangerous in possession, with Gerrard pulling the strings and Kewell finding space for his trademark runs.
However, the Reds could not find the finish they wanted.
Emile Heskey picked up a lose ball 20 yards out and forced a full-length save from Hislop. The corner was not cleared properly, and Kewell switched the play to Gerrard, whose cross to beyond the far post was hooked over by Heskey.
Portsmouth were determined to make a game of it, though. A Berkovic corner was met by Arjan de Zeeuw, but he could not direct his header wide of Jerzy Dudek.
Liverpool needed a second, and Heskey wasted a great opportunity created for him by Gerrard and Owen just after the restart. As he moved in from the right, the England striker sliced his effort wide of the near post.
Then Dietmar Hamann let fly from 25 yards, the shot striking Quashie and cannoning wide when it looked destined for the top corner.
Despite having vastly more possession, Liverpool just could not find a crucial second goal.
And when Amdy Faye had a shot deflected into Dudek's arms and then Yakubu fired over the bar, the dangers were obvious.
Steve Finnan then had a stooping header wide from Kewell's corner before Gerrard collected the ball inside his own half, surged away, cut across the box and sent a curling 25-yard effort inches wide.
Petri Pasanen was then booked for hauling down Gerrard on the left-edge of the box, although it seemed the rash challenge had taken place just inside the area.
As free-kick was blocked, Jamie Carragher forced a great save from Hislop, who saw the ball late.
Gerrard was everywhere, and was tripped by Alexei Smertin before then becoming involved in an altercation with Dejan Stefanovic.
However, on 77 minutes Portsmouth struck an equaliser to silence the Anfield faithful.
Smertin got away on the right, the cross cleared everyone in the box and fell for Taylor to rifle past Dudek.
It almost got worse for Liverpool three minutes later when Yakubu forced his way into the box and Dudek needed to make an important save down to his right.
Gerrard Houllier responded by sending Florent Sinama-Pongolle on for the flagging Cheyrou.
Next on was Anthony Le Tallec for Kewell, who had picked up an eye injury after a clash with Smertin.
And the French youngster should have won it with five minutes left when he met a Gerrard cross six yards out, but lifted his volley over the bar.
Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Kewell (Le Tallec 84), Hamann, Gerrard, Cheyrou (Sinama Pongolle 82), Owen, Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Kirkland, Murphy, Biscan.
Booked: Sinama Pongolle.
Portsmouth: Hislop, Primus, Pasanen, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Smertin, Faye, Berkovic (Taylor 70), Quashie, Yakubu, Mornar (Olszar 56).
Subs Not Used: Wapenaar, Schemmel, Hughes.
Booked: Smertin, Pasanen.
Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).
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|Match Report filed: 19th February 2004|