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Coventry City (0) 0
Liverpool (2) 3

Coventry City’s hopes of stretching their impressive home record were destroyed by a Liverpool performance which not only proved how powerful Gerard Houlier’s side are becoming but also proved good news for England.

Michael Owen, free of his hamstring injury, scored two goals while Emile Heskey – likely to be his long-term international partner – finally opened his account for the Anfield club.

But however impressive Houlier’s men were, Coventry were equally as poor. They created precious little in front of goal, never had control of midfield and looked very shaky at the back. If Steve Ogrizovic, making his 600th appearance, had not made a couple of crucial saves it would have been far, far worse.

City manager Gordon Strachan recalled Paul Telfer after his international debut in midweek after Tomas Gustafsson failed to recover from injury, but Robbie Keane was on the bench after his knee injury.

All the attention was understandably lavished on Ogrizovic but after a pre-match presentation he was brought down to earth early on. Coventry did start relatively brightly but Ogrizovic was forced into an early save when Owen burst past Richard Shaw and the impressive David Thompson fired on goal.

Liverpool’s passing was beginning to unpick Coventry and when Owen fired in his first after 22 minutes it came as no great surprise. He was able to pick his way past both Colin Hendry and Shaw before scoring.

If Strachan had hoped for a response he will have been disappointed. Noel Whelan limped off with a thigh injury after half an hour to be replaced by Keane but even his arrival made precious little difference.

What will have worried Strachan most was the failure of his side to really press Liverpool. Against Everton and Bradford they refused to allow the opposition to settle on the ball but the Merseysiders were given far too much time to play. They may be a powerful side maturing well but Coventry made them look possibly better than they are.

If Coventry could have got to half time without conceding again it would have given Strachan an opportunity to try and stop the rot. Owen denied him that opportunity.

With eight minutes to go before the break, Dominic Matteo crossed the ball into the diminutive striker who was able to shimmy into enough space to power in a low shot from close range.

That effectively ended the game. The visitors knew they had the match and the points sewn up and hardly broke sweat in the second half – they didn’t need to.

Ogrizovic had to keep out shots from Thompson and Heskey, and denied Owen a hat-trick with another fine stop.

There was nothing he could do, however, to deny Heskey his first goal following his 11 million move from Leicester. Moustapha Hadji will have to shoulder some of the blame. He conceded a stupid free kick allowing Patrik Berger to swing over a free kick which Heskey headed in at the far post.

The Sky Blues should be safe from relegation after those two home wins last month but hopes of a top half finish are fading fast and on this performance does not look deserved.

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COVENTRY (4-4-2):
Ogrizovic; Telfer, Shaw, Hendry, Froggatt; Chippo, Eustace (Quinn, 67mins), McAllister, Hadji; Whelan (Keane, 32mins), Roussel
Subs: Breen, Burrows, Kirkland

LIVERPOOL (4-4-2):
Westerveld; Carragher, Hypia, Henchoz (Song, 84 mins), Matteo; Thompson, Gerrard (Murphy, 70 mins), Hamann, Berger; Owen (Camara, 80 mins), Heskey
Subs: Meijer, Fiedel

GOALS: Owen (22, 37 mins), Heskey (78 mins)

REFEREE: Mike Reed (Birmingham)

Coventry - Whelan (27 mins, foul)
Liverpool - Hamann (49 mins, foul)


COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Steve Ogrizovic – damage limitation

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 1 Apr 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM