January 21 2003
Who was the only English team to beat Liverpool in the cup during their treble-winning season of 2000/1?... asks Gordon Law.
The answer was Crystal Palace of course when the Eagles disposed of the Scousers 2-1 in the first leg of the Worthington Cup semi-final at Selhurst Park in January of that year.
Not even Barcelona, Porto, Roma (who actually beat them in one of the games) and Olympiakos could stop the Reds winning the Uefa Cup to add to the FA and Worthington trophies.
Yet again, Palace were given the rough end of the League Cup semi-final draw as they somehow missed out on getting smaller clubs Ipswich and Birmingham City.
But there was a mood of optimism in the Palace camp. They had already disposed of holders Leicester City and Sunderland.
Ever-optimistic Simon Jordan said: "No-one at this club was surprised that we beat Sunderland in the quarter-final and we won't be surprised if we beat Liverpool.
"For a long time people have laughed about Palace, but we are changing that perception. If we play well against Liverpool we will beat them, it's as simple as that."
Emile Heskey and Michael Owen wasted two good chances to put Liverpool ahead in the opening stages of the game, both blasting high and wide into the Holmesdale Stand.
Palace gained confidence from Liverpool's poor finishing. Sander Westerveld denied Clinton Morrison with a finger-tip save and from the resulting corner he somehow managed to save a point-blank effort from Mikael Forssell.
The second half started well for Liverpool with Owen having the biggest chance again. He had a one-on-one with Alex Kolinko who did well to deflect the ball out with his head.
Then came the moment Latvian Andrejs Rubins will remember for years to come, as in the 55th minute, his rocket goal broke the deadlock. He had scored another cracker from further out against Leicester in the earlier rounds.
He picked up a ball from Simon Rodger and fired it from all of 25-yards past Westerveld to send the majority of the sell-out Selhurst crowd crazy.
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier reacted by replacing Owen and midfielder Danny Murphy with debutant Jari Litmanen and Vladimir Smicer.
But Palace who doubled the lead after 76 minutes as Forssell knocked down a Craig Harrison cross to allow Morrison to score a deserved second goal for The Eagles.
A minute later however, Liverpool pulled one back through substitute Smicer, who tapped in a Litmanen cross and the match ended 2-1 giving Palace a slender lead into the second leg.
Alan Smith said: "I couldn't have asked for any more from my players. I'm satisfied with our night's work as it was important to take something to Anfield to try to hang on to."
Morrison claimed he could have easily scored Owen's fluffed shots. He said: "I was looking at the chances Owen had and I was thinking I wish I could have had some of them. I'd have put at least two of them away."
Palace: Kolinko, Austin, Harrison, Fan, Rubins, Rodger, Smith, Thomson, Morrison, Mullins, Forssell
Subs not used: Gregg, Gray, Carlisle, Frampton, Pollock
Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Biscan, Babbel, Gerrard, Murphy (Litmanen 64), Barmby (Hamann 77), Heskey, Owen (Smicer 64)
Subs not used: Nielsen, McAllister.
Referee: U D Rennie (Sheffield)
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