Liverpool ruin Owen's homecoming

LONDON, England -- Liverpool maintained their English title challenge with a comfortable 2-0 victory

Owen's return to Anfield in Newcastle colors ended in disappointment.

 over Newcastle at Anfield to record their eighth straight Premier League victory.

First half goals from Steven Gerrard and an own goal by Shay Given ensured a miserable homecoming for former Liverpool striker Michael Owen.

To add to Newcastle's disappointment, they had Lee Bowyer sent off after 66 minutes for a strong challenge on Xabi Alonso.

Television replays pointed to an over the top challenge which led to a on-field melee with both Peter Crouch and Gerrard angrily confronting Bowyer.

Crouch was shown the yellow card and later substituted, but he earlier made a more positive contribution to the Liverpool cause.

The lanky striker set up Harry Kewell for an early effort smartly saved by Given before a neat touch found Gerrard charging forward to strike a 14th minute opener, his 13th goal of the season.

Liverpool were in total command and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead just before half-time.

Australian international Kewell, returning to his best form, crossed for Crouch to head goalwards.

Newcastle keeper Given initially appeared to keep out the effort, but the ball squirmed under his body and over the line.

The second half followed a similar pattern and Nolberto Solano appeared lucky not to be red carded with a goal line clearance from a Fernando Morientes header which appeared to strike his arm.

Luis Garcia might have done better as he stole in front of the static Newcastle defense for a near post header, but the game was essentially over as a contest when Bowyer caught Alonso with a late lunge.

It was the controversial midfielder's second red card in two seasons at Anfield.

With Owen looking a forlorn figure, Liverpool continued to press and Crouch's replacement Djibril Cisse drew another fine save from Given.

Victory took Liverpool to third place in the Premiership, some 15 points behind Chelsea, with two games in hand and six behind second-placed Manchester United.

CNN

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