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Luton V Liverpool


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Liverpool emerged from a truly memorable FA Cup tie at Luton with an amazing 5-3 victory in a third round battle that had everything.

A pulsating game saw Steven Gerrard put Liverpool ahead early on before Luton started to dominate the European champions and goals from Steve Howard and Steve Robinson deservedly put Mike Newell's men ahead at half time.

The game was far from over and the second half was spellbinding stuff as Djibril Cisse missed a penalty before Kevin Nicholls scored from the spot for Luton just minutes later to put them 3-1 ahead.

Liverpool then staged another miraculous comeback with substitute Florent Sinama-Pongolle the catalyst as he scored the first and third of three goals in 12 minutes to somehow put The Reds ahead, either side of Xabi Alonso's dipping 35-yard effort.

The Spanish midfielder then capped an amazing night's action by adding a fifth for Liverpool in stoppage time from inside his own half, with goalkeeper Marlon Beresford stranded after coming up for a corner.

Luton came flying out of the traps and were giving their illustrious visitors no time to settle whatsoever, forcing a couple of early corners.

Sami Hyypia almost put Howard through moments later, but Scott Carson came out to clear after the big Finn had knocked the ball back towards his own goal.

Liverpool took the lead on 16 minutes with a moment of real quality from their skipper, as Cisse's lay-off from the right was whipped unstoppably into the far corner by Gerrard with a fine first-time hit.

The hosts drew level on the half hour mark when Ahmet Brkovic slipped a fine ball through Hyypia's legs sending Howard through, and the big striker rounded Carson and finished well to send Kenilworth Road wild.

The Hatters did not rest there and they continued to dominate proceedings with only Steve Finnan's header off the line preventing Markus Heikkinen from heading Luton in front.

Rowan Vine had a shot beaten away by Carson before Luton took a fully deserved lead two minutes before half time when Robinson cushioned the ball superbly on the turn leaving Jamie Carragher for dead before lashing the ball home into the far corner.

Liverpool were given a glorious chance to equalise three minutes after the break when Gerrard was brought down by Paul Underwood after Harry Kewell had tried to square for him when clean through on goal.

However, Cisse's poor spot kick was saved by Beresford, and almost immediately referee Mark Clattenburg was pointing to the spot at the other end after adjudging that Carson had brought down Vine in a one-on-one right on the edge of the box.

Vine had broke free after being presented with the ball from a dreadful Hyypia mistake, and skipper Nicholls stepped up and put Luton in dreamland with a 3-1 lead after just beating Carson

Benitez responded by bringing on Pongolle, and he got Liverpool back into the game just after the hour mark when he rifled past Beresford after being put through by Gerrard's ball.

The game was literally end-to-end cup tie stuff, with Luton still looking to attack as Liverpool pushed for an equaliser - which duly came on 69 minutes with Xabi Alonso firing in a 35-yard after that dipped over Beresford at the last minute to amazingly make it all square at 3-3.

Liverpool kept going forward and bagged their third goal in 12 pulsating minutes when Steve Finnan's cross was emphatically headed home by man-of-the-moment Pongolle to give Liverpool a 4-3 lead in a truly gripping encounter.

With time running out, Beresford came up for a corner but, as Liverpool cleared he was caught out of his goal and Alonso showed a huge amount of ability to fire in to an empty net from his own half with his left foot to cap what was a truly epic cup tie.

What a brilliant game :o! It gave Istanbul a run for its money! Football at it's best I would say, it just shows the magic of the FA cup. It was funny when Gerrard fell over in the interview as well :D

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It has to be said that the game was one of the best I had ever seen. Luton played well and were unlucky to lose from being 3-1 ahead, but Liverpools superior team showed their class in the second half to come back and win 5-3! An amazing game, one of the history books.

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