Liverpool FC put a stuttering start to their UEFA Champions League campaign firmly behind them with a 5-0 defeat of FC Spartak Moskva tonight, with two goals from striker Emile Heskey and one each from Bruno Cheyrou, Sami Hyypiä and Salif Diao.
Campaign on the roll
Liverpool began the last European season quietly with two draws against Boavista FC and BV Borussia Dortmund before defeating Dynamo Kyiv and this year it has been the same, losing 2-0 to Valencia CF in their opener and only managing a disappointing home 1-1 draw with FC Basel. However, the Reds finally set their campaign rolling against Spartak, who were finished as a threat after just 30 minutes of the first half.
Heskey and Cheyrou strike
Heskey opened the scoring as early as the sixth minute when he drilled John Arne Riise's long ball over the top past Spartak goalkeeper Stanilslav Cherchessov. If that was a good start it was to get even better when Cheyrou struck his maiden goal for the hosts, Danny Murphy picking the ball up on the edge of the box and threading the French international into a great position to slot into the far corner.
Hyypiä on target
Soon after, Owen should have hit the third, when he went clear and looked certain to score only to see his chipped shot denied by the woodwork. The miss, though, amounted to little as Hyypiä made it 3-0, when he jumped in powerful fashion to head Murphy's cross past a despairing Cherchessov.
Spartak, who are yet to score in their three Champions League encounters this term and have now gone 14 games without a victory in the competition, were stung by the third and immediately went on the counter, with Aleksandr Pavlenko charging forward in one of few aggressive moves only to blast the ball over the bar.
Liverpool coasted at the start of the second half and Spartak looked more lively, which they needed to be if they were going to find any way back, with Alexander Danishevski particularly bright and involved in everything positive from the Russian side. But the hosts soon reasserted themselves and any more goalscoring chances that arose fell their way.
Romantsev under threat
In fact, Gérard Houllier's team should certainly have added to their tally before the two late goals sent Spartak back to Moscow thoroughly demoralised and with the fate of their coach Oleg Romantsev hanging in the balance as his side are already out of the domestic championship race. The ball looked certain to end in the back of the net when Dietmar Hamann's thundering free-kick was only parried by Cherchessov and Heskey and Owen were unlucky not to put away follow-up efforts.
In the event Liverpool did not have to wait long for the fourth, when Heskey crossed from the right and Senegalese international Salif Diao jumped between two defenders to nod into the far corner on 81 minutes. Heskey completed the demolition at the death when he sent a low shot into the far corner after a selfless assist from Owen.