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Football: POMP IDOL; Liverpool 1 Portsmouth 1 LuaLua's injury-time header leaves Raf's men stunned.

Byline: By Ed Casey

A WONDER strike from Steven Gerrard looked like clinching all three points for Liverpool last night - until a last-gasp leveller from Lomano LuaLua ruined the Kop's party.

Rafael Benitez's men paid the price for a series of wasted opportunities as Lua Lua struck deep into injury time to deny the Reds their seventh home league win in eight matches.

Benitez rang the changes following the derby defeat by Everton with Jerzy Dudek, Steve Finnan, Xabi Alonso, Antonio Nunez, Djimi Traore and Milan Baros also reinstated.

The home side enjoyed the majority of possession without making visiting keeper Jamie Ashdown work too hard.

Liverpool surged forward in the 26th minute and Gerrard picked out Antonio Nunez at the back post.

He had time on his side but only succeeded in sending a weak shot into the arms of Ashdown.

Liverpool began the second half brightly, and Gerrard fired in a power-ful shot after 47 minutes which just cleared the bar.

They kept up the pressure and Harry Kewell made space inside the area only to see his effort go wide of Ashdown's left-hand post.

Kewell was again out of luck in the 56th minute when his fierce drive whistled past the post as the Kop held its breath.

Portsmouth keeper Ashdown then twice came to his team's rescue in quick succession.

He superbly blocked Nunez's effort in the 58th minute and then somehow managed to parry and then hold Dietmar Hamann's close-range header.

But it was Gerrard, typically, who opened the scoring in the 70th minute with a 25-yard thunderbolt into the top corner.

Liverpool were cruising to victory until deep into stoppage time when Lua Lua headed past Dudek before celebrating with his trademark somersaults in front of the travelling supporters.

CAPTION(S):

STALEMATE: Milan Baros battles with Portsmouth's Steve Stone at Anfield last night
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 15, 2004
Words:309
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