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Oliver Kahles

Benitez defends Gerrard decision

Startbeitrag von Oliver Kahles am 22.02.2006 07:32

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez defended his team selection as his side slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Benfica.
With captain Steve Gerrard suffering from a minor leg injury, Benitez opted to use his captain only late on.

"I'd rather have Steven Gerrard ready for the next month rather than just 80 minutes of this match," said Benitez.

Benitez also disputed the award of the free-kick that led to Benfica's winner. He said: "We've seen the video and I don't think it was a foul."

Benfica won the game after Brazilian defender Anderson Luisao headed home Armando Petit's 84th minute free-kick.

Benitez added: "It was disappointing to concede a free-kick in that position so late in the game.

"We had discussed how dangerous they were from that particular set-piece and we ended up letting them score from it."

Despite Liverpool's defeat, Benitez remains confident the European Champions will reach the quarter-finals.

"But I've confidence that we can play much better at Anfield. We need to score one quickly and with our fans behind us I believe we can go on to win the game and the tie.

"I was happy with the effort of my players but maybe we could've attacked more.

"But it's hard for us after the amount of games we have played this season to perform at a high tempo all the time."

Benfica boss Ronald Koeman believes his side are now favourites to qualify for the last eight.

"We know that if we score one, they must score three. We are more favourites now, Liverpool were but we are now favourites.

"It was their first defeat in the Champions League proper this season and Liverpool have played Chelsea twice and not lost.

"But we have now beaten them as well as Manchester United, it shows we are also a good side."


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