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banner Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Owen shatters Arsenal in Cup final
Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljungberg
Dejected Arsenal pair Henry and goalscorer Ljungberg
Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool

Michael Owen produced a virtuoso late show to shatter Arsenal and give Liverpool the FA Cup at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Liverpool's red-hot star struck twice in the last eight minutes to break Arsenal's hearts after Arsene Wenger's side had dominated for long periods.

Arsenal were rewarded for incessant pressure when Freddie Ljungberg gave them the lead with 20 minutes left.

But Liverpool somehow roused themselves from a lifeless performance - with Owen as a magnificent spearhead - to take the cup in the most dramatic fashion.

Houllier's salute
Houllier's salute

Owen struck a double to stun Arsenal as they started to celebrate and write another incredible chapter into FA Cup history.

He equalised with eight minutes left, then settled matters single-handedly with a stunning winner three minutes from the end as he left a trail of Arsenal defenders in his wake to score.

It gave Liverpool their second domestic cup competition in Cardiff, adding the FA Cup to the Worthington Cup won earlier this season.

And it was third time lucky for Liverpool, who have lost two previous FA Cup Finals to Arsenal.

Owen did not even play when Liverpool won The Worthington Cup against Birmingham City - now they travel to face Alaves in the Uefa Cup Final in Dortmund ready to make history.

It was obvious that we should have won, and we had a clear penalty turned down, but this the story of our season
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Liverpool are also on course for a Champions League place if they win their final Premier League game of the season at Charlton Athletic.

Arsenal will wonder forever how they failed to win, with Wenger sure to be angry about a penalty appeal turned down in the first half when Stephane Henchoz handled on the line from Thierry Henry.

And they will also regret a succession of missed chances, with Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia making three goal-line clearances.

Fowler axed

Houllier and Wenger both had key selection issues to resolve - and neither shirked the big responsibility.

Liverpool agony
There were nerves among the Liverpool support
Robbie Fowler was the victim of Houllier's decision to halt his attacking rotation policy, as he was out in the cold when Liverpool went with Emile Heskey and Owen up front.

Arsenal boss Wenger resisted the temptation to recall Dennis Bergkamp after a length absence through injury, pairing Henry and Sylvain Wiltord.

Heskey was involved in the first contentious moment after six minutes, when he tumbled under a challenge from Gilles Grimandi, but referee Steve Dunn rightly waved away penalty appeals.

Arsenal saw their own penalty protests ignored ten minutes later - and they had every right to be furious.

Ljungberg brilliantly released Henry, and when he skipped around Liverpool goalkeeper Westerveld he was clearly denied by the arm of Henchoz on the goal-line.

The officials failed to spot the offence, which could have had dire consequences for Henchoz and Liverpool.

Gerrard battles Wiltord
Gerrard battles Wiltord
Liverpool were intent on adopting a counter-attacking appoach, allowing Arsenal space and possession until they reached the danger area.

It was a high-risk strategy, but a ploy that has worked well for Liverpool as they chase a trophy treble in a mammoth season.

Arsenal had dominated the opening exchanges, but it made for a frustrating first half stalemate as two members of the Premiership elite were reduced to sparring.

The tempo of the game was also being affected by blistering Cardiff temperatures and the sluggish nature of the re-turfed pitch at The Millennium Stadium.

Liverpool finally gave David Seaman an anxious moment two minutes after the interval as Houllier's side finally hinted at menace.

Danny Murphy's free-kick was met by Heskey's head as he muscled his way into the penalty area, but he was only able to direct his effort straight at Seaman, who pushed it to safety.

Liverpool had a remarkable escape after 56 minutes after a moment of brilliance and invention from Henry.

Murphy and Ljungberg collide
Murphy and Ljungberg collide
The French striker juggled the ball past Westerveld, leaving Ashley Cole with what appeared to be the easiest of chances as the ball ran loose.

England youngster Cole stabbed the ball goalwards, but Liverpool captain Hyypia cleared off the line.

Arsenal scented a goal, and Liverpool made the change on the hour when veteran Gary McAllister replaced the struggling Dietmar Hamann, who had just been booked for a foul on Patrick Vieira.

It was Hyypia to the rescue again after 67 minutes when he was again the saviour on Liverpool's line, heading out a Ljungberg lob.

Arsenal were suffering frustration in the extreme - but they experienced joy when they finally made the breakthrough with 19 minutes left.

Goalkeeper Westerveld had a nightmare moment with a poor defensive clearance, and when Robert Pires played Ljungberg in the Swede rounded the Dutchman and scored with ease.

Hyypia beats Wiltord
Hyypia beats Wiltord
It was no more than Arsenal deserved, and they should have wrapped it almost immediately only for Westerveld to make amends with a brilliant point blank save from Henry.

Houllier had to make a change - and he did it at the double, sending on Fowler and Patrik Berger for Murphy and the ineffective Vladimir Smicer.

Liverpool had survived an onslaught, and finally found a foothold in the game when Owen equalised with eight minutes left.

Arsenal failed to deal with McAllister's free-kick, and Owen pounced with a right foot finish past Seaman from eight yards.

The comeback was complete with three minutes left when a stunning finish from Owen broke Arsenal's hearts.

Berger released Owen, and his pace burned off Tony Adams and Lee Dixon to beat Seaman brilliantly.

Arsenal were shell-shocked - and Liverpool are still on course for an historic cup treble.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Cole, Pires, Grimandi, Vieira, Ljungberg, Wiltord, Henry. Subs: Bergkamp, Lauren, Manninger, Parlour, Kanu.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Babbel, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Murphy, Gerrard, Hamann, Smicer, Heskey, Owen. Subs: Fowler, Berger, Arphexad, McAllister, Vignal.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol)

BBC Sport's Alan Green
"Liverpool recovered magnificently"
Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia
"It was a good comeback"
Arsenal 's Fredrik Ljunberg:
"We had a lot of chances to kill the game"
Arsenal's Lee Dixon
"You get ups and downs"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We should have won"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"We did not pass the ball well"
Liverpool's Michael Owen
"It's a fantastic result for the lads"
Links to more FA Cup stories are at the foot of the page.


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