England stars Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey helped Liverpool thr
England stars Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey helped Liverpool through to the League Cup final on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United at Anfield.
Following the Reds' victory at Southampton on Saturday when Owen and Heskey started together for the first time since Boxing day, the partnership helped make it two wins out of two for Houllier's men, something they have failed to do since the first week in November.
Trailing 2-1 from the first-leg at Bramall Lane two weeks ago, Liverpool were quick out of the blocks and Emile Heskey's urgency with pace and power highlighted the home side's desire for an early goal. And it soon came.
Where El Hadji Diouf failed from Michael Owen's lay-off on just three minutes, he made sure with a sublime finish running on to an Emile Heskey touch six minutes later. Owen cut inside his marker, as we've seen him do so often before, but his shot was palmed away by Paddy Kenny. Heskey was first to react and nudged the ball back to Diouf to do the rest.
Though Liverpool had the lead, the 1-0 advantage would still see the game go into extra-time and both sides were out to prevent that for their own benefit. Emile Heskey's tireless performance both supporting Owen and his defence underlined why he is held in such high esteem by his team mates. And he almost weighed in with a goal, firstly holding off a challenge wide on the left, his turn opened up a sight at goal but his fierce low drive was dealt with well by the ever-smiling Kenny then beating Shaun Murphy to a low Riise cross to guide just wide.
Owen had his chances in normal time too, but continually found himself out of luck. Two teasing dribbles into the box ended with the first being clawed away once again by Kenny and the second hit the wrong side of the post.
The second half saw the Blades shake Liverpool, but when it looked like they had the upper hand, another England star came to the fore. Steven Gerrard, who was relatively quiet during the early stages, took control of the middle of the park, and was hungry for the ball in order to feed Owen and Heskey. And the midfielder himself had a chance late on to win it, striking a left foot effort from an Owen pass that deflected off the foot of Wayne Quinn and over the bar.
But it was Gerrard's man-of-the-match display that gave Liverpool the hold finally sealing the win for the Reds. Two minutes in to the second period of extra-time, the player who missed out on England's World Cup campaign through injury, controlled and passed a ball from the sky with one touch sending Owen on his way. And with the impressive Kelly still to beat, the number 10 opened up his body taking the ball on his right foot and lifted it into the corner of the net.
Liverpool now make their way to Cardiff for their record ninth League cup final and look to have turned the corner away from their recent bad spell of results. And with Owen, Heskey and Gerrard all hitting form, it's no wonder why.
Will all three players be in the England team to take on Australia next month? Will any new faces be involved?
Find out when Sven names his squad Live on TheFA.com on Saturday February 8th.