rubbishes "one-man team" tag
Fit-again winger Harry Kewell insists Liverpool have
destroyed the myth that they lean too heavily on Steven
The Australian wideman made his return to the first team
in Liverpool's impressive victory over German giants
Bayer Leverkusen, a match which suspended captain
Gerrard had to watch from the stands.
Kewell was back in action after recent groin and
Achilles problems and lasted 77 minutes, proving his
match fitness and putting himself in line to start
against Chelsea in Sunday's Carling Cup final.
Much of the pre-game focus had centred on how Liverpool
would cope without Gerrard, but they hardly missed his
presence as Igor Biscan took on his central midfield
role and laid on the opening goal in a 3-1 win for Luis
"Obviously Steven Gerrard is a great player, but whether
he is playing or not, the rest of the team always go out
confident they can do a good job," said Kewell.
"Sometimes it doesn't come off, sometimes it does, but
that doesn't mean we do not know what to do and we
always give 110%.
"People keep saying we are a one-man team, but they can
have their own opinions about Liverpool at the moment,
we don't really care abut what people say. We know what
we can do.
"We proved it against Leverkusen, now we hope we can get
that momentum going and continue it that way."
Liverpool have had to cope with a growing injury list
this season, denying them the international class of
Djibril Cisse and Xabi Alonso on Tuesday night and, in
the Frenchman's case, for the rest of the campaign.
Fernando Morientes was also cup-tied.
Kewell added: "Obviously if you take out world-class
players from any team it is a problem if they are not
"We had several missing, Cisse is a world-class player,
Morientes is world class and Gerrard is also world
class. We are without Alonso as well as Chris Kirkland,
but what that shows is there is strength in depth here.
"The quality of the players that the manager has brought
in just underlines that. The team goes out and really
works hard for each other, sometimes results come but we
are all confident of what we can do.
"As for me, there always things I can improve on and I
am the first person to criticise myself. I know there
were a few things I could have done better.
"We are always together as a team, people keep trying to
knock us down by saying bad things about us but we have
always been a united team.
"Every time we go out on the pitch we feel we are a
team, sometimes things don't come off but we are always
together as a team and work hard to get the result."
Kewell's return had been overshadowed by a wrangle
between Anfield boss Rafael Benitez, his agent Bernie
Mandic and Australia national team coach Frank Farina.
Benitez is furious with what he claims is interference
in the medical treatment of the 26-year-old.
However Mandic has hit back, saying he is "not involved"
in Kewell's recuperation, while Farina says he has "no
problem" with the way Liverpool are handing the
Kewell admits he still feels the groin injury, but he
remains upbeat about his role in the Liverpool team.
"The injury problem is still there, it is not something
that is going to go away and I will have to sit down
with the manager and talk about it and see what
happens," he added.
"I can still feel the problem in my groin and everyone
is doing their best to get it right, which is fantastic
"I won't be rested, I want to play in every single game
but it is the manager's choice, it's up to him, whatever
"There has been some stuff said, but it is people who
don't know anything and they just want to say what they
want to say. They don't have the full facts.
"The facts are that I am working with the club and we
are trying to get this problem solved, it is as simple
as that. There has never been any other problem and
query about it, it is just people who make things up.
"I think the manager just wants to put a stop to it all
and that is fair enough. It doesn't bother me what
people say about me, it never has."
Dudek frustrated by error
By Adam Marshall - Sky Sports
Jerzy Dudek is trying to keep his spirits up after a
late error allowed Bayer Leverkusen a lifeline in the
UEFA Champions League.
The German side were on the brink of a comprehensive 3-0
defeat that would have rendered the second leg a
formality until Dudek spilled a long range shot by
Dimitar Berbatov and Franca pounced to give the visitors
Dudek was culpable for Wayne Rooney's recent winner at
Anfield and has had to face criticism of his form with
Leeds United's Scott Carson brought to Merseyside last
month as cover.
"I think it was a shot from the edge of the box," Dudek
told Sky Sports News.
"The ball bounced before me and hit my shoulder. It was
perfect for the striker for the rebound.
"You know, it is always very unlucky for the keeper.
"It's very, very frustrating.
"You can say that I have to keep my head up.
"We won the game which is very important before the
Rafa Benitez's side will still be confident of reaching
the quarter finals of Europe's premier competition but
the late strike does mean the tie is not yet sealed.
By Al Campbell - LFC Online
Jamie Carragher still believes Liverpool will
overcome Bayer Leverkusen despite the Germans' late away
Liverpool go to the Bay Arena in two weeks time with a
commanding 3-1 win, but it could have been much better
if Jerzy Dudek hadn't fumbled an easy shot in the last
minute of stoppage time to give Bayer an away goal.
Jamie Carragher was disappointed to concede a late goal
but is confident the Reds can cancel it out by scoring
an away goal of their own in Leverkusen.
He said: "3-1 is a very good result for us. People were
talking before the match about how 0-0 or 1-0 would be a
good result because we were without Steven Gerrard, but
we've done better than that.
"It was disappointing that they scored a late goal but
we can't worry about that too much. We have to make sure
we go over there and score a goal of our own. Obviously
we'll have to keep it tight and make sure we don't
concede, but I'm confident that if we can get at them
and put them under pressure then we can finish the job
"Obviously we'll have Steven Gerrard back for that game
and that will be a big boost for us. Having said that, I
thought Didi and Igor were superb last night and Steven
wasn't really missed.
"It's a good result for us and now we can look forward
to the cup final on Sunday. I'm looking forward to
watching how Chelsea get on against Barcelona now and
then taking them on in the final. This is a big week for
us and we've started it well."
happy for Reds
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, a late
substitute for Ronaldo last night in Real Madrid's 1-0
win over Juventus, was delighted by news of his old
club's 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Asked whether he thought Liverpool would now go on to
the last eight, he said: "You would hope so, wouldn't
"They have a scoreboard here (at the Bernabeu) and
there's me sitting on the bench for the majority of the
game, and I kept seeing Liverpool score another goal and
"I remember it being 3-0 and I found out just after the
game that it was 3-1.
"Unfortunately they've managed to nick one late on
against my old team - they've got to be in the driving
seat, but they'll probably be kicking themselves for
conceding that late goal."
Benitez: Reds on course
Rafael Benitez insists Liverpool can still reach the
Champions League quarter-finals despite Jerzy Dudek's
injury-time mistake which gave Bayer Leverkusen the
lifeline of an away goal.
Beaten 3-1, the Germans feel they can repeat the victory
they achieved over Liverpool three years ago in their
own BayArena, to book their place in the semi-finals
having been 1-0 down from the first leg.
But Liverpool boss Benitez said: "Before the game if you
had said the score will be 3-1 I would have happily
accepted that. At 2-0 it was good; at 3-0 it was great -
but I accept that 3-1 was not the best.
"You must realise that you have to concentrate right to
the very last seconds of a game at this level.
"But for me it was not Jerzy Dudek's fault. He had
played a very good game - and had we scored our other
chances, nobody would be talking about about their goal.
It would not have mattered.
"If we had scored our other chances it would not have
been worth remembering that last goal. In my opinion
Jerzy played well, made two very fine saves - and I am
happy with him.
"I have confidence that we can complete the task in
Germany; I am always confident and we must be positive.
If we lose 2-0 we are out but I think we can score in
Germany - certainly one, and that will make all the
coach blasts his dummies
By Trevor Huggins - Reuters
Bayer Leverkusen manager Klaus Augenthaler has
compared his team to training ground dummies after they
slumped to a 3-1 Champions League defeat at Liverpool.
While Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez defended Jerzy
Dudek after his goalkeeping blunder in stoppage time
gifted the Germans a priceless away goal, there was a
scathing verdict from Augenthaler on his men.
Free kicks decided the knockout round first leg tie,
with Norwegian John Arne Riise and German midfielder
Dietmar Hamann scoring directly after Spaniard Luis
Garcia had opened Liverpool's account after 15 minutes.
"This really shouldn't have happened," Augenthaler told
a news conference on Tuesday.
"On the first free kick, (Paul) Freier moved out of the
wall which enabled the ball to go where it went.
"On the second, our defenders looked like the dummies
you use in a training session who can't jump up. That's
what our wall looked like."
However, Augenthaler was buoyed by Dudek's fumble, which
allowed Brazilian substitute Franca to grab an away goal
and leave the Germans needing a 2-0 win or better in the
home leg to reach the quarter-finals.
"The 3-0 virtually killed the game off -- but our goal
has given us a lifeline," he said.
"Given that in the group stages we beat Roma, Real
Madrid and Dynamo Kiev at home by the margin required to
go through, we will have a chance. All we have to do now
is get this game out of our system."
Leverkusen were 3-0 winners over Real and Kiev and beat
Roma 3-1 in the group phase.
By Graeme Bailey - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Liverpool have one foot in the UEFA Champions League
quarter finals after a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at
Rafa Benitez was without his inspirational skipper
Steven Gerrard - suspended - and top marksman Fernando
Morientes - cup-tied - but his tactics were spot-on as
he masterminded a superb win.
Liverpool were unspectacular and rode their luck at
times, but goals from Luis Garcia, John Arne Riise and
Dietmar Hamann gave them the crucial win and surely a
big enough advantage to take to the BayArena in two
weeks - although Franca's late goal means Bayer are not
yet dead and buried.
Things could have been different had Bayer took any of
the plethora of chances they created in the opening
After a dour opening ten minutes, the game sprang to
life as Bayer carved open The Reds with their first
Paul Freier skipped his way down the right and past the
hapless Djimi Traore before pulling the ball back for
Robson Ponte, who could only sky his effort into The Kop
from 15 yards.
A nervous looking Jerzy Dudek then palmed away a Dimitar
Berbatov drive as Bayer looked the most likely to score.
Liverpool were seemingly happy to play deep and try and
catch Bayer on the break and they did that with great
aplomb just moments later.
Igor Biscan, filling in for Gerrard, burst past two
challenges in the middle of the park, before playing a
wonderful ball through to Luis Garcia - who sprang the
Bayer offside trap and fired the ball low past Hans-Jorg
Berbatov again tried his luck from distance as Bayer
looked for a quick leveller and they should have got it
when the Bulgarian was handed a gilt-edged chance by
some poor Liverpool defending.
Steve Finnan looked to head a lofted ball back to goal,
but his header struck Sami Hyypia and into the path of
Berbatov - who had a clear run on goal - but with Dudek
beaten he fired wide of the post from the edge of the
Ponte then managed to get an effort on goal but it was
straight at Dudek as again the Germans pushed.
It always looked likely that the Germans would rue their
missed chances and Liverpool added another ten minutes
before the interval following a period of good pressure.
The goal came thanks to a controversial free kick as
Juan clashed with Harry Kewell on the edge of the area,
with contact only looking minimal. But Riise did not
hang around and he curled home a wonderful free kick
past Butt at his near post - although the German wall
could well have done better.
With two goals in hand, Liverpool knew the match, and
even possibly the tie, was within their grasp and they
were happy to sit back and let Biscan dictate the play
from the middle of the park - which he did brilliantly
On 54 minutes this point was illustrated wonderfully as
the giant Croat majestically broke from his own half and
picked out Milan Baros - who found Riise on the left, he
skipped his way into the area before finding the Czech
striker again - but he curled his effort wide of the
post when he should have done better.
There was still danger for Liverpool though, and Bayer
again missed a wonderful chance to grab an away goal. A
nice move on the edge of the Liverpool area saw Diego
Placente thread a neat ball into the area for Andrej
Voronin - but the long-haired striker could only find
the top of the net.
Liverpool's chances were almost solely coming through
Biscan and again he created as he threaded through
Kewell with just 20 minutes left but the Australian
fired into the side netting from the edge of the area.
Bayer were now pressing hard, but that only made
Liverpool's counter attacking easier and they should
have made it three when Riise played a sensational ball
with the outside of his left boot into Baros's path -
but again the chance went begging as Butt deflected the
The resulting corner also saw a great chance fall to the
home side as Hyypia headed down for Jamie Carragher,
whose effort from two yards was well saved by Butt.
Dudek then showed he was equal to Butt, as he produced
two great saves - firstly a 30-yard volley from Freier
which he somehow managed to tip wide and then moments
later he somehow bettered that as he blocked a
thunderous volley from Bernd Schneider - making a rare
foray up the field from right back.
Liverpool had been sitting back, while still dictating
the play - but the last ten minutes saw Bayer dominate.
Substitute Landon Donovan had a good chance on the edge
of the area, but he was denied by a great challenge from
Just when both teams looked to have settled for the
result - Liverpool struck again with another clinical
Juan gave away another free kick on the edge of the area
- this time fully justified. With Riise off the pitch,
Hamann stepped up and he curled the ball over the wall
and into the back of the net giving fellow countryman
Butt no chance.
Still the game had something left as Bayer pulled a goal
back with virtually the last kick of the game.
Berbatov fired in another long-range effort straight at
Dudek, but the Pole spilled the ball and Franca was on
hand to poke the ball home.
Liverpool had all but sealed their place in the last
eight until Dudek's late error and although the lead
should be more than enough for The Reds - Benitez will
be fuming with his keeper.