Gerrard and Owen beat United in Cardiff

02 March 2003

There are few better feelings for Kopites than a victory over old foes Manchester United, fewer still when said victory comes in a cup final.

With Liverpool in the midst of what the media deemed a crisis, Gerard Houllier's men travelled to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, with Wembley undergoing refurbishment, as firm underdogs to lift the Worthington Cup.

Many of the following day's headlines had doubtless already been written even before the Reds walked out alongside seasoned internationals like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes.

However, within half-an-hour it was clear the form book had gone out of the window. Liverpool drew first blood on 38 minutes when Steven Gerrard tried his luck from distance. The end result sent the thousands of travelling Liverpudlians into ecstasy as the ball - with the help of a deflection off Beckham - flew over Fabien Barthez and nestled in the top corner. 
  
United came close to an immediate leveller, but a combination of Jerzy Dudek saving from Juan Sebastian Veron and Stephane Henchoz clearing off the line ensured the Reds held the advantage going into the break.

The restart saw Liverpool content to sit back and trust an iron defence led by captain Sami Hyypia.

Unsurprisingly, United came on strong, with Dudek again required to brilliantly turn away a van Nistelrooy drive.

The Merseysiders had a golden opportunity to double their lead after 63 minutes when substitute Milan Baros launched a lightening counter-attack before Gerrard hit the side netting when he should have done better.

Never mind, for after another top-drawer save from Dudek to deny Scholes, Liverpool broke again to secure the cup. With just four minutes left on the clock, Didi Hamann cut short a United attack and sent Michael Owen running clear on goal. The England man took his time before smashing the ball past Barthez to trigger scenes of utter jubilation from the Kopite hoards.

The season might not have lived up to all our dreams, but a sixth major trophy in three years ensured Houllier would live to fight another day.