Reds bounce back
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The stubborn Bulgarian side for along time threatened to pile even more misery on the under-fire Frenchman as they defended in numbers - but two magnificent goals helped ease some of the pressure on their beleagured manager with a 2-0 win in their Uefa Cup third round tie.
Milan Baros started brightly for Liverpool and his direct run into the box led to Danny Murphy trying his luck but the shot was blocked - before he looked to have been brought down inside the box by Iliyan Stoyanov, but referee Rene Temmink thought otherwise.
The Czech striker then went close from Steven Gerrard's corner, but his header went just wide - before the visitors nearly stunned a nervy Anfield when Kostantin Golovskoy's shot took a deflection off Sami Hyypia and skipped just wide.
Michael Owen had his first chance on the stroke of half time but he glanced his header wide from Harry Kewell's left wing cross.
Owen had a better chance three minutes after the interval but his header when clean through was clawed round the post by Levski keeper Dimitar Ivankov.
The keeper did well minutes later when Didi Hamann's through ball found Owen inside the box and he just managed to toe the ball over the advancing Ivankov but the ball bounced wide.
Liverpool were digging deep and, Owen in particular, were starting to create more chances, with the England marksman firing a couple of shots at the keeper from outside the box.
The Reds got the breakthrough they so desperately needed on 67 minutes and it was skipper Steven Gerrard who produced the magic to put them 1-0 ahead.
Steve Finnan collected a short corner from the right and when the ball was headed out Gerrard was their at the edge of the box to lash home a crisp left foot volley that nestled into the bottom corner to the relief of everyone inside Anfield.
Two minutes later and Liverpool were 2-0 up after another glorious strike, this time from Harry Kewell, after another short corner as the Australian whipped in a fantastic shot from the left edge of the box that flew past Ivankov into the far corner.
Kewell had a chance to seal the tie but his shot was blocked after a good move involving Baros again, but The Reds will fancy themselves to progress with a 2-0 advantage to take to the second leg.
Liverpool 2-0 Levski Sofia