Baptista stars in Arsenal win

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Julio Baptista scored four times and missed a penalty as Arsenal's third-choice side won 6-3 at Liverpool on Tuesday to reach the English League Cup semis.

Updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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Julio Baptista scored four times and missed a penalty as Arsenal's third-choice side won 6-3 at Liverpool on Tuesday to reach the English League Cup semifinals. Three days after the Gunners beat Liverpool 3-1 to eliminate the defending champion from the FA Cup, they returned to Anfield and built a 4-1 halftime lead with two goals by Baptista and one each by Jeremie Aliadiere and Alex Song. After Baptista added a fifth in the 60th minute, Steven Gerrard and Sami Hyypia scored to try to rally the Reds. But the Brazilian on loan from Real Madrid, who failed to convert a penalty with the score 4-1, added his fourth with six minutes to go. "Today is very special for me and for Arsenal," Baptista said. "The team played a very, very strong game and after the match we're happy." Liverpool must recover from being knocked out of both domestic cup competitions three days apart, conceding nine goals at home and apparently having lost Mark Gonzalez and Luis Garcia with serious leg injuries. "We must forget about it as soon as possible and think about Watford," manager Rafa Benitez said referring to Saturday's Premier League game. "They (Arsenal) had four chances in the first half and scored four goals. I am more worried about Luis Garcia and Mark Gonzalez who may be out for a long time." Arsenal next will meet north London neighbor Tottenham in the two-leg semifinals. The first leg of the other semifinal is on Wednesday when League Two Wycombe hosts Chelsea. The final is at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on February 25. In FA Cup third-round games, Reading ousted League Championship Burnley 3-2, but another championship club, Colchester, was upset 2-1 at League Two Barnet. As Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger selected - as promised - a 16-man squad with an average age of 19, Benitez made nine changes from the team that lost on Saturday, resting many of his regulars. Early setback Liverpool suffered an early setback when Gonzalez was carried off the field with an injury to his right shin after a challenge on Theo Walcott. After a spell of Liverpool pressure, Arsenal led in the 26th minute when Kolo Toure's through ball beat the home team's offside trap and Aliadiere got free. Although his first shot was blocked by goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, he got his own rebound and tapped it into the net. Liverpool equalized within two minutes. After goalkeeper Manuael Almunia parried Fabio Aurelio's free kick, Luis Garcia pulled the ball across goal and Fowler turned it home with an audacious backheel. Arsenal regained the lead in the 40th when Baptista curled a 25-meter free kick over the wall and wide of Dudek, who made no effort to stop it. Alex Song converted a corner from Cesc Fabregas with Dudek unable to get to the ball, And Arsenal scored again in the final minute of the half with Baptista tapping the ball home after Aliadiere got clear on the left to make the cross. Dudek saved one goal when he dived right to push wide Baptista's penalty try in the 57th after Sami Hyypia tripped Aliadiere. But two minutes later Baptista completed his hat trick when Aliadiere sprinted down the left and pulled the ball back to the Brazilian, who scored with a low drive into the bottom corner from 23 meters. Gerrard hit a second for Liverpool with a powerful volley from outside the area after the Gunners failed to clear a corner. Besides Gonzalez, Liverpool also lost his replacement, Luis Garcia, who was carried off in the 73rd minute with what appeared to be a serious right knee injury. After Almunia had made an acrobatic punching save to keep out Gerrard's free kick, Hyypia made it 5-3 in the 80th when he headed home a leftwing cross. But Aliadiere and Baptista combined again in the 84th with the French forward breaking in from the right to set up the Brazilian with another close-range tap in for his fourth. In the FA Cup, Reading cruised into a 3-0 lead with goals by Leroy Lita in 27th, Shane Long in the 37th and Sam Sodje in 55th. Burnley tried to rally on goals by Ade Akinbiyi in the 69th and Garreth O'Connor in the 90th. The Royals will visit either Newcastle or Birmingham for a place in the fifth round. Barnet's come from behind victory over Colchester earned it a home game against either Plymouth or Peterborough.

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