REDS EASE INTO LAST EIGHT
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
City never really recovered from going two goals down in the opening 12 minutes, as Jari Litmanen instigated the romp with a goal from the penalty spot and an assist for Emile Heskey.
City briefly threatened to haul themselves into the match when Andrei Kanchelskis beat Sander Westerveld but a second penalty, this time by Vladimir Smicer, and a late Markus Babbel header extinguished the FA Cup hopes of Joe Royle`s side.
Liverpool started extremely brightly and their efforts were rewarded when Litmanen eliminated the entire City defence with a fine pass into the path of Vladimir Smicer, and the Czech raced on goal before winning a penalty following an innocuous looking challenge from keeper Nicky Weaver.
At worst, Weaver caught Smicer with a flailing finger, but Graham Poll awarded the spot-kick despite being prostrate on the ground after being felled by a stray blade of grass.
Litmanen had no hesitation in taking the penalty, and his confidence was justified as he sent Weaver the wrong way to put The Reds 1-0 up.
City barely had time to regroup before Weaver was picking the ball out of his net for the second time. Litmanen showed exactly why Gerard Houllier was so keen to sign him from Barcelona, as the Finn picked out Emile Heskey with a superb lofted pass.
The England international raced away from the defence before slotting past a shell-shocked Weaver.
Liverpool looked as if they could score at will, but City showed remarkable spirit to regroup and start to threaten the previously unused Sander Westerveld.
Livewire Australian Danny Tiatto was his typical self, threatening down the left with vigour.
It was the Australian who gave his side a lifeline, with his well directed corner to the far post picking out Kanchelskis. The on loan winger hit a low shot from the edge of the area and it crept in off the post, after an attempted flick by Darren Huckerby appeared to distract Westerveld.
The Reds lost Litmanen at half-time through a calf strain, being replaced by Nick Barmby, and his invention appeared to be sorely missed at the start of the second period.
Liverpool did, though, restore their two-goal cushion when Weaver gave away a second penalty. This time he only had himself to blame, as he raced from his line and recklessly hauled down Smicer when the Czech ace appeared to be running out of options.
Smicer dusted himself down before taking charge in Litmanen`s absence and stroking the ball home.
Joe Royle`s side never shirked the issue, but they rarely had the required credentials to break down a well-organised Liverpool defence.
Citizens skipper Alf Inge Haaland created a chance that would have led to a frantic final 20 minutes, but Darren Huckerby blazed over the bar from eight yards after the Norwegian escaped down the right.
Minutes later Weaver produced a moment of brilliance with a stunning save from a Smicer volley that looked destined to fly into the back of the net.
Liverpool did make it four late in the game, when their German-axis of Christian Ziege and Babbel connected from a free-kick, with the latter heading past Weaver.
City huffed a puffed to the end and were rewarded with a consolation after Huckerby evaded the Liverpool defence to feed Shaun Goater. The striker stroked the ball home but, ultimately, Liverpool eased their way into the last eight.
Liverpool are 5/2 to win the Cup - click here for details.