|Saturday 20th September 2003
LIVERPOOL 2-1 LEICESTER
|After this game: Pos 7th Pl 6 Pts 11|
|MATCH REPORT - Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City|
Owen 20 pen
Emile Heskey grabbed his first goal of the season to ensure that his generosity towards his former club was only confined to a £100,000 hand-out.
The England striker donated that cash last season when Leicester were in desperate financial crisis.
But he made sure that after being recalled for the stricken Milan Baros, he was on hand to grab the crucial killer goal to give Liverpool their first home win of the season.
Leicester battled to the death, scoring with a minute to go through Marcus Bent to give Liverpool a nervy conclusion.
But they could not stop Liverpool's fifth game unbeaten in succession and their third straight victory as they slowly turn around some shaky early season form.
It was never easy or pretty against a competitive Leicester, but nonetheless just about deserved.
The battle of Blackburn had left Liverpool without Jamie Carragher and Baros for months, but with the war of words between Gerard Houllier and Graeme Souness finally calming down, the Anfield boss was still able to call in seasoned internationals Heskey and John Arne Riise to fill the gaps.
Leicester, with what boss Micky Adams calls a squad of misfits, would have struggled for such adequate replacements. But at least they know how to scrap.
They arrived at Anfield with an impressive record of three wins in their last five visits, and set about trying for another with unashamed deep defence and brave running.
Liverpool spun the ball around, inter-changing and probing for gaps and to Leicester's credit few appeared in the opening phase.
All Ian Walker had to do early on was claim a Harry Kewell snapshot at his near post.
Owen almost broke the deadlock on 17 minutes when Vladimir Smicer's ball into the box evaded Gerry Taggart and the England striker spun to see his shot from eight yards hit the sprawling Walker's legs and bounce into his arms.
Two minutes later Owen did find the net. Two tackles in quick succession just inside the box first sent Owen sprawling and then Smicer - and the latter challenge by Ben Thatcher produced a spotkick that Owen coolly stroked home.
Walker now found himself more meaningfully involved. He had to hurl himself to his left to clutch a Kewell flicked header from El-Hadji Diouf's cross from the left.
Steven Gerrard was next to play in Owen, but the pace was taken off his shot by Thatcher, and Walker saved to his right.
Leicester continued to compete for every inch and caused a few problems from set plays. but it was two surging runs from Diouf that could have put Liverpool further ahead.
On the first occasion he tried one trick too many and lost the ball in the act of shooting, and then he ran from half way to drive a shot wide of the near post.
But the longer the game went with Leicester still in touch, the more nervy Liverpool became.
Leicester pushed forward more after the break, won a string of set pieces and proceeded to hammer them into the heart of Liverpool's defence for the big men to battle for.
Scowcroft missed with a clear header and the competitive streak of Paul Dickov gave Liverpool's defenders not a second or peace.
Leicester even put on big Brian Deane upfront to press home their aerial threat.
But on 74 minutes Liverpool got the breathing space of a second.
Owen chased a Kewell chip into the box, turned it back for Diouf, who drilled in a low shot that Heskey lunged at to deflect past Walker.
That should have been it, but even now Leicester would not give in. They pulled one back on 89 minutes when Bent lashed home a Deane flick on.
But Liverpool hung on to push themselves into the top six before the embark on their UEFA Cup campaign next week.
Liverpool Dudek, Finnan, Biscan, Hyypia, Riise, Diouf (Le Tallec 88), Gerrard, Smicer (Murphy 76), Kewell, Heskey, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Luzi Bernardi, Diao, Traore.
Leicester Walker, Curtis, Sinclair, Taggart, Thatcher, Hignett (Stewart 7), Izzet, Nalis (Scimeca 75), Scowcroft, Dickov, Bent, Stewart (Deane 71).
Subs Not Used: Impey, Coyne.
Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).
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BBC Sport 'Liverpool fend off Leicester'
|Match Report filed: 2nd October 2003|