players are angry with themselves
Gerard Houllier admitted his Liverpool
team were angry with themselves after their disappointing Champions League
opening defeat in Valencia.
Liverpool were outplayed by the Spanish champions as they lost 2-0 in
Houllier said: "My players are angry with themselves after that
"They are in the dressing room not happy at all with what happened.
"I knew this would be the hardest game for us in the group, they were just
better than us on the night.
"I was disappointed because we never saw the true Liverpool out there.
"Valencia were more experienced. They have a steady, settled side and they
have just won their title.
"They are a very, very good side. They played better than us and deserved
Houllier started the game without Michael Owen, and Valencia boss Rafael
Benitez said: "We certainly expected to see Owen, he is part of the power
"But I would not criticise them for what they did, we expected (Emile)
Heskey and we had to face him. Their coach must have had his reasons.
"But I expect Liverpool to hit back from this, they will stand up and
fight because they are a great team."
Houllier explained: "I felt it was going to be a physical battle so that
is why I started with Heskey up front and (El Hadji) Diouf just behind
"But the system didn't work as well as I had hoped.
"We looked shaky in defence, and we were not as bright in midfield and we
could have done better up front.
"All that together is why we lost. It was a day off from the office."
On Dietmar Hamann's red card, Houllier said: "It was very unfortunate.
"He had been fouled and managed to get entangled with his opponent.
"There was nothing malicious or harmful about what he did."
Hamann sent off as
Liverpool suffered a blow to their
European dreams when they were out-played by Valencia.
The Spanish champions cruised into a two-goal lead with strikes from Pablo
Aimar and Ruben Baraja in the first half.
To make matters worse, Dietmar Hamann was sent-off for two bookable
offences in the second period.
Gerard Houllier sprung a surprise by leaving Michael Owen on the bench.
But the key absence was defender Stephane Henchoz, still out with a calf
Senegal star Salif Diao continued in his role alongside Sami Hyypia.
Even though the Mestalla was little more than half full, the noise that
poured down seemed to un-nerve Liverpool.
On 17 minutes David Albelda saw a shot from 20 yards deflected for a
corner, which was met by the giant Carew, who sent a header bouncing wide.
The goal had to come and it arrived on 19 minutes when Baraja and Albelda
combined to send Aimar into the box on the right to drill his shot wide of
a hopelessly exposed Jerzy Dudek.
Hamann was booked for clattering Aimar on 21 minutes as the flow continued
unchecked towards Liverpool's goal.
Liverpool had not ventured into Santiago Canizares' box until the half
hour, and from their first effort almost equalised.
Jamie Carragher picked up possession on halfway, surged down the right to
lay a fine pass to Heskey.
Heskey took the ball wide of the Spanish international keeper and screwed
his shot across goal and inches wide of the far post.
Then on 37 minutes Baraja surged onto a Carew knock down to stride forward
and strike a low drive past Dudek.
Houllier attempted to change things at the break, bringing on Owen.
Liverpool were at last able to play in their opponents' half and created a
Carragher's ball into the box was laid back by Owen for Danny Murphy to
hit on the volley, Canizares pulling the ball down from underneath the
The presence of Owen unnerved the Spanish defence, and when he ran onto a
Murphy pass, it took three defenders to blot him out.
It took Valencia a while to get a grip again, but they did when Aimar
crossed from the right and Carew glanced a header inches wide of the far
But on 77 minutes Hamann was involved in a pointless scuffle with
substitute Miguel Mista, and the referee sent the German off.