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Football

Portsmouth send Liverpool crashing


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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Substitute Richard Hughes gave Portsmouth a shock 1-0 victory over Liverpool in their FA Cup fifth-round replay to set up a quarterfinal against holders Arsenal.

Liverpool's England striker Michael Owen fluffed a penalty before Hughes lashed a low shot into the far corner of the net after 72 minutes to decide a tense encounter at Fratton Park.

It was the Scottish midfielder's first goal for Portsmouth, who have only won the FA Cup once, in 1939.

They will face Arsenal, where Hughes was once a trainee, at Fratton Park in the last eight on March 6.

Harry Redknapp was delighted with the performance of his injury-hit Portsmouth side, who are fighting relegation from the Premier League.

"To get the workrate we got out of those 11 players was absolutely incredible. We're so patched up... they were magnificent," he told Sky Sports.

After a tepid first half controlled by Liverpool, the match came to life with two bizarre penalty area incidents following the break.

The first occurred after 49 minutes when bumbling referee Matt Messias gave a penalty to Liverpool after their own striker Milan Baros handballed inside the Portsmouth box.

Messias mistakenly thought a Portsmouth hand had touched the ball but, to the home side's relief, reversed his decision and gave them a free kick after consulting his linesman.

Twelve minutes later Messias did award Liverpool a penalty and again Portsmouth had reason to feel aggrieved, with defender Matthew Taylor appearing to win the ball cleanly when he tackled Baros in the area.

This time the decision stood but Owen's pitiful penalty effort was easily gathered by Portsmouth goalkeeper Shaka Hislop who was celebrating his 35th birthday.

'Diabolical decisions'

Redknapp was not amused with the referee. "They were two of the most diabolical penalty decisions I have ever seen," he said.

Liverpool were made to pay when Portsmouth's Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni fed Hughes and his accurate drive beat flat-footed keeper Chris Kirkland.

Owen drew a superb finger tip save from Hislop as Liverpool pressed for the equalizer but the result heaped further pressure on their manager Gerard Houllier.

The Frenchman must now lift his team for their UEFA Cup third round, first leg game against Bulgarian team Levski Sofia at Anfield on Thursday.

"We had enough chances to go through," said Houllier. "But I can't say my players were at fault except for the finishing.

"We are disappointed but we have got to be strong enough and in four days we have an opportunity to put things right."



Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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