After The Match 


Reading-Liverpool 1-1 (1-1)          2.1.10             FA Cup (3. r)
Goals: Gerrard (36)             Church (24)
Team: Reina, Darby, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Kuyt, Gerrard Lucas, Aurelio, Ngog, Torres
Subs: Aquilani (N'gog 68), Benayoun (Aurelio 77)
Not used: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Babel, Spearing, Degen
Yellow: Insua (23)                  Mills (90)
Red: None
Referee: M Atkinson
Attendance: 23,656
Shots on target: 2-2
Shots off target: 3-8
Blocked shots: 0-5
Fouls conceded: 8-16
Corners: 5-3
Offsides: 1-2
Possession: 42.1-57.9
Yellow: 1-1

a difficult game..."
Rafael Benitez
0401: Darby thanks Reds team-mates
0301: Darby praised
0201: McDermott: A terrific display
0201: Rafa admits replay relief
0201: Royals earn Reds replay  

Darby thanks Reds team-mates

By James Riach - Sky Sports

Liverpool youngster Stephen Darby has expressed his thanks after returning to the Reds team against Reading.

The 21-year-old defender played 90 minutes as Liverpool drew 1-1 in the FA Cup at the Madejski Stadium, earning the Royals a replay at Anfield next Wednesday.

Darby made his Reds debut in the UEFA Champions League against Fiorentina in December, but what should have been a day to remember turned to disaster when he gifted Viola forward Alberto Gilardino a goal which sealed the win for the away side, ending Liverpool's European campaign on a sour note.

Darby admits he was at a low ebb after the error, but has thanked his team-mates for picking him up and giving him the confidence to bounce back.

"It's something I've got to learn from and I couldn't dwell on it too much," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"I tried to put it behind me quickly and use the experience to make me a better player.

"It was a night of mixed emotions; obviously it was amazing to make my debut at Anfield but to concede a goal like I did in the last minute was very disappointing.

"It really hurt for a couple of days after, I can safely say that. But the lads got behind me and gave me great advice and encouragement."

Darby was delighted to make manager Rafa Benitez's starting XI for the cup match against Reading, and hopes he has done enough to deserve another shot in the first-team with Glen Johnson out injured.

"Hopefully there will be a couple of more chances in the next couple of weeks," he added. "You've got to be level-headed and realise the hard work is only just beginning.

"It was important to get another game. Now it's just a question of continuing to work hard and hopefully showing enough to impress the coaching staff.

"There are a number of possibilities for the manager and he can change things around; the competition for places is massive but all I can do is keep working hard."

Liverpool were not on their best form for the trip to Berkshire, but although Darby admitted the team were disappointed with the performance, he expects them to prove their worth in the replay.

"We were disappointed to go a goal down but I thought we fought back well but, at the end, we were disappointed not to win the game," he remarked.

"They put us under a bit of pressure and we had a couple of chances but, unfortunately, we didn't take them; as a team I thought we battled well after going a goal down.

"It's only half-time, we've got the replay to come and hopefully we'll put it right.

"We were really compact and defended well; it was just a big confidence boost to start and shows that the manager has faith in me. Now I have got to try and repay it."

Darby praised

By Al Campbell - LFC Online

Jamie Carragher has praised Stephen Darby.

The reserve team captain was Liverpool's best player in
their 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round tie at Reading yesterday and his performance earned him the praise of Carragher.

"He played very well and I'm really pleased for him," said the vice captain.

"I thought he also did well against Fiorentina recently, and he was just unfortunate at the end of that game with the mistake.

"It wasn't the easiest game against Reading, and it was very difficult to play in, but he showed great character to come back from it.

"It was great for him and you also have to give credit to the manager for picking him.

"It would have been easy [not to pick him] after what happened against Fiorentina, but if you look at that game he was one of our best players on the night.

"And he was superb against Reading, which shows that he's not only just a good player, but also has very strong character.

"He was a very composed in a tough game. Sometimes it's easier to play well when the team plays well, but to come through it and perform well at a very difficult place to play can be a real battle and we're all pleased for him because he's such a nice lad."

McDermott: A terrific display

Sky Sports

Brian McDermott felt a replay was the least Reading deserved following their 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Reading started positively at the Madejski Stadium and broke the deadlock through Simon Church in the 24th minute.

Steven Gerrard equalised for Liverpool 12 minutes later but it was Reading who impressed for the remainder of the match.

McDermott was proud of his players and hopes they can build on the performance to improve their position in the Championship as well.

"We need to play like that every week. The most important thing we've lacked is consistency and we have to get back to that," said the caretaker manager.

"It was terrific. I thought we were full value for the replay and we might even have nicked the game but to get another game at Anfield, we're absolutely delighted with that, and that was especially for those 1,500 supporters who travelled to Plymouth when we didn't perform the other day. That was my motivation."

Reading were beaten 4-1 by Plymouth on Monday and McDermott insists it was important for the players to be competitive against the Reds.

"People said there was no pressure on us today but there is always pressure," he explained.

"The last thing we want to be is embarrassed in a game of football.

"A side like Liverpool can embarrass you if you are not careful. A replay was the least we deserved."

Rafa admits replay relief

Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez admitted he was satisfied just to still be in the FA Cup following
the 1-1 draw with Reading.

The Royals have been struggling in the Championship of late but they upset the form book to earn a replay at Anfield later this month.

Simon Church tapped in to give Reading an early lead but Liverpool drew level courtesy of a Steven Gerrard effort before half-time.

The Reds then found themselves on the back foot for much of the second period and Benitez was glad to hear the final whistle.

"I'm relieved," said the Spaniard.

"To play in front of the TV and against Liverpool I think was a massive boost for them and you could see they played really well.

Trophy target
"They were pushing and working very hard from the beginning until the end so we had to do our job.

"It was a difficult game and the most positive thing is that we will play another game at Anfield."

Benitez selected a strong starting XI including both Gerrard and Fernando Torres and he has vowed to try his best to win the competition.

"We know that we have two clear chances to win trophies - the Europa League and the FA Cup - so we will try our best in both and keep improving in the league," he said.

"This is the way now so we try to win.

"Our aim is to win trophies so we have to start winning these games."

Quizzed about his transfer plans for this month, Benitez stressed that he would be fighting to keep Ryan Babel

The Dutch winger was an unused substitute against the Royals and has had few opportunities to shine this season but Benitez has offered him hope for the future.

"He will have a chance to play," he said.

"He has to work hard for us. He's our player and he will have his chances. At this moment we are not trying to sell him."

Royals earn Reds replay

Sky Sports

Liverpool had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their FA Cup clash with Reading after coming from behind at the Madejski Stadium.

The competition is one of Rafa Benitez's main priorities following a disappointing first half to the season and he sent out a strong side against the Championship strugglers.

But it was Reading who made the brighter start and took a deserved lead in the 24th minute when Liverpool's defensive frailties were exposed at a set-piece and Simon Church tucked the ball away following good work by Grzegorz Rasiak.

The Reds responded strongly and equalised through Steven Gerrard when Dirk Kuyt cleverly stepped over a cross from the England midfielder to deceive goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Reading carved out the better opportunities in an exciting second half but there were no more goals and the teams will now have to resume battle at Anfield.

Bright start
The Royals impressed in the early stages and had the ball in the net when Jobi McAnuff met Pepe Reina's punch, but the header was correctly ruled out as Rasiak was offside and also impeded the Liverpool goalkeeper to allow the finish to trickle over the line.

Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici was fortunate to escape further punishment when he handled outside the penalty area, claiming a ball Gerrard pushed through to Fabio Aurelio. Martin Atkinson only awarded a free-kick.

The West Yorkshire referee was also lenient when he turned down a Reading appeal for a penalty when Martin Skrtel tugged on Gylfi Sigurdsson's shirt, but Emiliano Insua finally went in the book when he fouled McAnuff on the right flank.

That led to Church's strike. Ryan Bertrand swung over the deep free-kick to the far post, with most Liverpool players expecting the ball to drift out of play.

They did not count on Rasiak darting around Lucas Leiva and pulling the ball back from the byline. Church used his shins to tap in from close range for his fifth goal of the season.

Liverpool looked to Torres to get them back in the game and the Spain striker headed just wide when Dirk Kuyt crossed from the right channel.

It was their other talisman, Gerrard, who grabbed the equaliser. The midfielder picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and shaped to cross, with Kuyt stepping over the delivery to fool Federici.

Gerrard sent Torres through before the break and Federici spread himself well to block the finish, and Aurelio also drilled wide when sent through.

Reading's disgruntled fans spotted their former manager on his duties as a television pundit and chanted "we want our Coppell back", as they hope for a return to the days of success.

The club have been in freefall since relegation from the top flight two seasons ago and the likes of Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt have been sold - but at least the current players were not giving up. Sigurdsson unleashed a swerving shot that required a decent Reina save.

Torres had threatened just after the break when he went just over the crossbar from the edge of the area.

Federici appeared to pull a hamstring midway through the second half, so Ben Hamer came off the bench and saved on the line from Alberto Aquilani before the end.

Torres headed just over in stoppage-time as Liverpool were denied a late winner.

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Thor Zakariassen