Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool were dumped out of the UEFA cup after an uninspiring display against Celtic at Anfield.
Goals by Englishman Alan Thompson and Welshman John Hartson, meant cup holders Liverpool went out 3-1 on aggregate.
The result and the manner in which his team won delighted Celtic manager Martin O’Neill.
“It was hard for us early on,” said the former Leicester City boss. “I just said to the players ‘hang on.
‘They deserve all the credit in the world. Certainly we have a chance to go through and win the competition but all of the sides left are capable of beating us.”
The hero of the night was undoubtedly former West Ham star John Hartson. After missing a last minute penalty in the Scottish Cup Final against Rangers on Sunday, Hartson was on hand last night to score the goal which he called ‘the best I’ve ever scored.’
The striker was keen though to acknowledge the efforts of his teammates.
“We limited them to very few chances and I thought the back four were magnificent again.” said Hartson.
“I was devastated for the fans on Sunday. Tonight it was one of those that as I hit it, I knew it was in. You probably get one or two of them in your career.”
Liverpool werehoping that this competition would be their saving grace this season after a somewhat disappointing campaign. Gerard Houllier’s team may have already won the League Cup, but the Liverpool coach will be unhappy with this season and would have demanded more from his team last night.
Liverpool seemed to lack invention and determination, and never really had a guilt edged chance to score. Houllier admitted to being ‘hurt’ by the result and believes the game could have been very different.
“It could have gone either way in the first half and their first goal was a turning point in the game.” said the Frenchman.