Liverpool set-up 'Battle of Britain'
By Steve Luckings
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Michael Owen and Danny Murphy ensured the mouth-watering clash as Gerard Houllier's men won the tie comfortably by two goals on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.
Danny Murphy and El Hadji Diouf both came close to opening the scoring in the first half as Murphy pulled the ball down well on the edge of the box on 15 minutes before his right foot effort sailed narrowly over Fabien Cool's bar whilst Diouf's effort also narrowly grazed the woodwork.
Emile Heskey should have done better with a header on 32 minutes, after Murphy picked him out with the outside of his right foot, but his effort sailed over.
Djibril Cisse looked the most likely goal threat for Guy Roux's men and almost levelled the scores on aggregate a minute before half time when he found himself un-marked in The Reds penalty box and fired a low right footed volley but Jerzy Dudek was up to the task and diverted it out for a corner.
Owen and substitute Vladimir Smicer went close again for the Anfield side but Philippe Mexes pulled off a fine tackle in the penalty area on 59 minutes to deny the Czech international before he blazed over after some fancy footwork found him with another sight on goal.
Owen finally settled the home fans' nerves with his 18th goal of the season after a delightful flick from Murphy, who was then fortunate to see his speculative 30-yard effort go in after what should have been a routine save for Cool.
Owen's goal took him level with Ian Rush on 20 in Liverpool's European goal scoring charts and he should have been out on his own after the mercurial Smicer picked him out un-marked on 83 minutes but in fairness to the young forward, he was always stretching for the ball.
Click below for match summary:
Liverpool 2-0 Auxerre