AS Roma 0-0 Liverpool FC. In a game of few clear-cut chances, AS Roma and Liverpool FC ground out an entertaining goalless draw in their UEFA Champions League Group B encounter in the Olimpico stadium, Rome.
With much of the pre-match attention focused on Michael Owen and Gabriel Batistuta, it was Roma captain Francesco Totti who looked the most likely to break the deadlock. His neat skills and pace were a constant thorn in Liverpool's side but, when called upon, Stéphane Henchoz and Sami Hyypiä were equal to the task. The Liverpool central defensive duo marshalled Batistuta almost into obscurity but, when the Argentinian international did find space, he looked short of ideas and was guilty of some poor efforts on goal.
At the other end, Owen was equally well neutralised by Aldair, Walter Samuel and Jonathan Zébina. With 19 goals in 19 games this season, Owen was given little chance to shine, while strike partner Emile Heskey worked hard throughout a frustrating match.
Liverpool went close to breaking the deadlock in the eighth minute as Owen controlled the ball inside the Roma penalty area. His lay-off found Steven Gerrard but his dangerous low cross was hooked clear by Aldair. Roma then attacked with pace and forced a good chance four minutes later, as Francesco Totti and Emerson da Rosa surged down the right and crossed for Gianni Guigou to shoot from 20 metres. Henchoz threw himself at the ball and blocked the goalbound effort.
Liverpool's Vladimír Šmicer had the best chance of the half after 15 minutes but volleyed straight at Roma goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli from Jamie Carragher's long ball. Heskey also missed a great chance on the half hour mark as he blasted wide of goal from ten metres following a neat lay-off by Hyypiä, before Roma forced Jerzy Dudek to make his first real save of the night. The Polish international had to dive smartly to his right to deny Emerson da Rosa from the edge of the area.
Both sides had penalty appeals turned down before the break by referee Dick Jol, in charge of his final game at this level, and the second period followed a similar pattern to the first. Batistuta had a chance to open the scoring after 59 minutes but was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by John Arne Riise after Totti released him behind a flat Liverpool defence. Substitute Marcos Assunção also went close five minutes later but his delightful 25-metre free-kick was centimetres wide of Dudek's right post.
Lima goes close
With time running out, Roma piled on the pressure but the English side stood firm. Emerson da Rosa crashed his header straight at Dudek, before Francisco Lima's low drive almost embarrassed the Liverpool keeper. His firm shot from 20 metres slipped under the body of the diving Dudek but he recovered just in time to stop the ball trickling over the line.
Both teams will be have been satisfied with a share of the spoils at the final whistle, but Liverpool will be delighted to finally get a point on the board after their Matchday Seven defeat at home to FC Barcelona.