Liverpool stung by late Soltvedt strike

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The Independent Football

AN INJURY-TIME goal from Trond Soltvedt last night sent Southampton into a Worthington Cup fourth-round tie against Aston Villa, at the expense of a strong Liverpool side who must now look to the Premiership and FA Cup for avenues back into European competition.

AN INJURY-TIME goal from Trond Soltvedt last night sent Southampton into a Worthington Cup fourth-round tie against Aston Villa, at the expense of a strong Liverpool side who must now look to the Premiership and FA Cup for avenues back into European competition.

Michael Owen was the hero -turned-villain for the Anfield side, having put them into a second-half lead before spurning a golden opportunity to seal the game with minutes to go. The England forward beautifully controlled Erik Meijer's low centre before unaccountably screwing his shot wide of the post. How Soltvedt made him pay for his wastefulness.

Though the tournament is regarded by some clubs as little more than a run-out for their reserves, the same could not be said of this pair, who both fielded the strongest teams available to them.

After 12 minutes, a Southampton break led to a half-volley from Soltvedt from 25 yards out but the ball flew just over. A minute later, Owen ran onto a through ball and was one on one with Paul Jones, but the home keeper ran off his line to narrow the angle and Owen shot wide.

As a spectacle it was not pretty. At one stage Liverpool had three clear chances to open the scoring within a few seconds in a goalmouth mêlée, but could not produce anyone to scramble the ball into the net. Jones twice had to pat the ball half away before Dean Richards stepped in to hook clear. Aside from Owen's chance, the best opportunity in the first half fell to Soltvedt. Again his short was narrowly awry.

Owen did not have to wait for long after the restart to get on the scoresheet. Eight minutes into the second half, he picked up the ball on the edge of the box, shook off a challenge and drifted across to the right. Turning on goal, he looked up briefly and picked his spot in the left corner of the net.

Southampton equalised through Richards after 68 minutes with a perfectly worked free-kick. Matt Le Tissier, largely anonymous until then, chipped the ball from just outside the box and the tall defender stole in unmarked and headed past Brad Friedel.

Southampton (4-5-1): Jones; Dodd, Richards, Lundekvam, Benali; Ripley (Beattie, 81), Soltvedt, Oakley (Marsden, 61), Kachloul, Le Tissier; Pahars (Davies, 75). Substitutes not used: Beattie, Colletter, Moss (gk).

Liverpool (4-4-2): Friedel; Song (Heggem, 74), Henchoz, Hyypia, Staunton; Thompson (Camara, 81), Carragher, Redknapp, Berger; Owen, Meijer. Substitutes not used: Neilsen, Heggem, Matteo, Camara, Murphy.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

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