Cissé goals inspire Liverpool to rescue another lost cause

Liverpool 3 CSKA Moscow 1 aet; score at 90 minutes 1-1

The comeback might not have been as astonishing as the return from three goals down in the European Cup final in May that earned Liverpool a place in this match but it came in spite of circumstances that suggested the game was a lost cause for Benitez's side. Up until Cissé's arrival on 79 minutes to score the equaliser, Liverpool's strikers were so lamentable that the Liverpool support had started to sing Michael Owen's name.

If the future of Cissé at Anfield is another one of those factors contributing to the prospect of an Owen return then last night served to make matters even more complicated. The French international has seemed on the brink of a move to either Marseilles or Monaco over the last week and yet last night he seemed the answer to the attacking concerns that have plagued Benitez's side, scoring the second on 102 minutes and making the third for Luis Garcia.

The visit to Monaco was Liverpool's ninth match of a season still in its infancy, and only two of those games have been in the Premiership, while this was the fourth that has taken them abroad. Those who might accuse them of being uninterested in a trophy that Gérard Houllier's side won for the club in 2001 should have taken into account the attitude of Rafael Benitez who - despite not risking Steven Gerrard - spent most of the first half on his feet in agitation.

Houllier was never shy about counting the Super Cup as an equal to the other trophies he acquired while Gerrard, much more eager to figure for England next week, clearly has different thoughts about its merits. There was no doubting the importance placed upon the trophy by the fans of CSKA Moscow, the Uefa Cup winners, who outnumbered the red army from Liverpool as they colonised the bars and restaurants around the principality.

CSKA threatened first on 27 minutes when their midfielder Milos Krasic struck a shot just wide of Jose Reina's left post. A minute later the Brazilian Vagner Love expertly unlocked a retreating Liverpool defence to put Daniel Carvalho clean through. Reina appeared to come out too quickly and the Brazilian skipped past him before slipping the ball home from the edge of the area.

A goal down with 15 minutes left, the Liverpool support had made their own minds up about their team's attack - the old refrain about there being "Only one Michael Owen" rang down from a stand that had seen their side fail so badly in front of goal. Whether Benitez - a man too firmly entrenched in his own football principles to be swayed by populist opinion - really wants Owen will have much to do with how he views Cissé's future after this.

The equaliser came when Reina struck a long clearance that found Cissé via Garcia's chest. The striker still had much to do but Sergei Ignashevich's clearance clipped Cissé's hand, looped over goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, and gave him a simple tap-in.

With 12 minutes played in the first half of extra-time, Liverpool turned a counter-attack by CSKA into a devastating attack via a raking long ball from Dietmar Hamann. Cissé took it into his stride and, after his shot was stopped, put in the rebound. He made the third on 108 minutes, crossing for Garcia to head home.

Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Reina; Josemi, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise (Cissé, 78); Finnan (Sinama Pongolle, 56), Alonso (Sissoko, 70), Hamann, Zenden; Luis Garcia; Morientes. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Warnock.

CSKA Moscow (3-4-2-1): Akinfeev; V Berezutskiy, Ignashevich, A Berezutskiy; Chidi (Gusev, 90), Rahmic, Aldonin, Zhirkov (Semberas, 67); Krasic (Dudu, 83), Carvalho; Vagner Love. Substitutes not used: Mandrikin (gk), Samodin.

Referee: R Temmink (Netherlands).

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