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Owen steers Liverpool to final

Liverpool: Michael Owen guided Liverpool into the League Cup final on Tuesday after they beat first division Sheffield United 2-0 on the night after extra time and 3-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool, who lost the away leg at Bramall Lane 2-1, took a ninth-minute lead through Senegal forward El Hadji Diouf but needed Owen’s 107th-minute strike to line up a final with either holders Blackburn Rovers or Manchester United.

Rovers host United with their semi-final tied at 1-1 after the first leg as they bid to reach the final in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on March 2.

Liverpool, who have won the League Cup a record six times, fully deserved their trip to Wales after keeping a courageous Sheffield United side under control for most of the game.

Senegalese striker Diouf made no mistake though when Owen’s close range effort was parried, Emile Heskey knocked the loose ball into Diouf’s path and his low 20m shot gave keeper Paddy Kenny no chance.

United enjoyed their best spell midway through the second half with midfielder Michael Brown’s free kick tipped over the bar by Kirkland and followed up by two goalmouth melees.

Liverpool soaked up the pressure and then hit back, squandering a string of opportunities.

Owen missed a chance on the break, Czech midfielder Vladimir Smicer volleyed wide, Gerrard had a shot deflected over the bar and fellow England midfielder Danny Murphy headed wide as Gerard Houllier’s men converged on the United goal.

In extra time Owen raced away on the break to tuck home Gerrard’s through ball, the outcome was never in doubt.

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