After The Match 


Liverpool-Chelsea 1-0 (1-0)           Tue May 3.    CL - semifinal (2. leg)
Goals: Garcia (4)
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Hamann, Garcia, Gerrard, Riise, Biscan, Baros
Subs: Cisse (Baros 59), Kewell (Hamann 73), Nunez (Garcia 84)
Not used: Carson, Smicer, Warnock, Welsh.
Yellow: Baros (8)
Red: None
Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia)
Attendance: 42,529

                                    MATCH-REPORTS & RESULTS 
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Fouls conceded:





"The question
today is to enjoy
the situation."
       Rafael Benitez

0505: Anfield becoming drunk on Benitez's...
0505: Hansen: Carra's 10 times better than I was
0505: Gerrard: We can be legends

0405: Carra: You can't buy fans like ours
0405: Immense Carragher inspires Liverpool
0405: I was right, says goal-row official
0405: Benitez - the European master

More from the match - click here

Anfield becoming drunk
on Benitez's special brew

By Andy Huter - Daily Post

WIithout the self-importance or the sour grapes, Rafael Benitez is the perfect antidote to the 'special one' - but Liverpool have themselves a special one nonetheless.

Jose Mourinho lost not only the first semi-final of his managerial career at a frenzied Anfield on Tuesday, but a care-fully manufactured aura of invincibility.

With one more triumphant performance from Liverpool on May 25, he will also lose the honour of being the only manager besides Bob Paisley to win the UEFA Cup and European Cup in successive years.

His Iberian conqueror Benitez is within touching distance of that remarkable feat following the unforgettable events of this week's Champions League semi-final second leg.

Only a few months ago there was open disbelief at such an achievement within Anfield itself. Now there is only absolute faith in the fates that have carried Liverpool this far and will see them claim a fifth European Cup exactly 28 years to the day of their first if they triumph in Istanbul.

The winners mentality Benitez has infused throughout Anfield is paying off and, though the nerve-shredding events of Tuesday, this Premier-ship campaign and his fierce work ethic suggest otherwise, he has made the journey to the greatest stage appear almost effortless. How Sir Alex Ferguson must be suffering now.

The Manchester United manager made it his public intention to knock Liverpool off their perch and delivered.

Yet in just nine months Benitez has produced as many European Cup final appearances for Liverpool as Ferguson has in 19 years and 11 Champions League campaigns at Old Trafford.

Now he just needs to win it of course, and with a full 10 days to prepare his squad for the Turkish showdown - the longest time he has spent uninterrupted with his players all season - Benitez will have no reason to fear AC Milan.

"I am delighted for Rafa, absolutely delighted," said chief executive Rick Parry yesterday.

"He deserves it more than anyone for the hard work he has put in and the ups and downs he has had to cope with this season. He has been through a lot this season, but if anything he has thrived on the challenge of everything that has happened.

"I am pleased for the players as well. They were absolutely magnificent."

Parry admits Benitez ticked every box when they were looking for the right man to replace Gerard Houllier last year, and it says everything about the Liverpool manager's ability to adapt that eight of Tuesday's starting line-up were bought by his predecessor.

There was only one Benitez signing in from the start against Chelsea, and he scored the winner. Well, he might have!

Anfield's chief executive added: "I don't think we have been surprised in what Rafa has done because of the credentials he has.

"We knew the qualities we wanted our manager to have and he fits them all.

"We are talking about hunger, knowledge, determination, skill. He is a top coach and has everything that you want. But above all he is a winner and that is crucially important and that is rubbing off.

"This can be just the start of things under Rafa. We never ever viewed his appointment as a gamble, simply because he stood to everything we were looking for last summer.

"He has a proven track record and reputation. Winning one of the major leagues in the world twice in the face of competition from Real Madrid and Barcelona is no mean feat.

"But Rafa is young and hungry. He wants to take the club places and we didn't want to bring someone in who saw Liverpool as a way of earning his pension.

"He lives and breathes football and he is a humble, genuinely nice guy. But someone who won't shy away from making decisions. He is definitely in the 'Liverpool way'."

Benitez has also been hailed as the world's greatest manager by the men he will turn into Liverpool legends with victory at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium next month.

The magical touch that won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup in the three years with Valencia has now revived the fortunes of one great institution and the careers of several play-ers.

The rejuvenated John Arne Riise said: "Rafa is the best manager in the world, tactically he is unbelievable.

"So many times he judges things perfectly and the way he prepares and picks the team gives us a lot of confidence.

"I know the players want to play for him and he deserves a lot of credit for what he has done in his first season in England.

"Everybody knows the system, what they are supposed to be doing and where they should be. He tells us all in great detail how he wants us to play and we just try to carry out those instructions.

"Over the whole season we have learned a lot and we can't wait for next season now. We have every confidence that we can go to Istanbul to win the trophy. We have beaten some great teams and we can do it again."

Mourinho may have felt he had that title under wraps before being out-thought by Benitez in both legs of their exhausting semi-final.

But for the victorious Liverpool players there is no doubt who deserved the spoils of victory.

Dietmar Hamann said: "It was a great triumph for the manager. To reach the Champions League final in his first season here is very special, and he is special, and we are looking forward to the final now."

And Sami Hyypia, again outstanding against Chelsea, added: "He's a great manager. He's made us better as a team as well as individually better.

Tactically, he's very strong and very strict. If somebody does not do something he likes he tells us straight away and corrects it. He's a very demanding manager and everybody at the club wants to play for him."

Riise also paid tribute to the Liverpool fans, adding: "The atmosphere was fantastic.

"The fans never stopped singing all night and we felt that we had to give them something back. Now they have a final to look forward to and I hope they enjoy it.

"Chelsea may be the best team in the league over the whole season because they are champions, but we have been the best team over the two legs of the semi-final, whatever Jose Mourinho says."

The atmosphere on Tuesday night has already taken its place in Anfield folklore.

And Parry admits: "I suppose the last game is always the best, but I was here for St Etienne in '77 and the atmosphere was better than that.

"The noise was just incessant. I thought that it would take something to beat the atmosphere generated against Juventus, but there was never a lull, never a silence."

Confidence, not surprisingly, is flooding through the Liverpool camp now as they prepare for the club's sixth European Cup final.

Milan Baros said: "I have never felt an atmosphere like we all experienced at Anfield, now we are confident of lifting the trophy because we play well in the Champions League.

"The supporters deserved that.

"We will enjoy being in the final and we will have a couple of days off now to let it all sink in.

"As for the goal, all I can remember is getting to Stevie's (Gerrard) pass before Petr Cech and knocking it past him before I was flattened.

"I didn't really see whether the ball went over the line but the linesman was right there and he gave it, that's all that matters.

"It was a great start for us. We felt we had it won after just four minutes because the first goal was going to be so important. But there was still a lot of hard work to do."

And Benitez, who will not be satisfied whatever the outcome on May 25, is just the man to do it.

Hansen: Carra's 10 times better than I was

By Paul Rogers - LFC Official Website

Anfield legend Alan Hansen might be considered the greatest ever defender to pull on a Red shirt by Liverpool fans all over the world but the captain-turned-pundit believes that even in his prime, he was nowhere near as good as Jamie Carragher.

The Bootle-born defender has been nothing short of sensational all season in terms of consistency and after helping hold Chelsea at bay for over 186 minutes, Hansen claims Carragher must now be held up as a true legend of the club.

"The outstanding performer for me on Tuesday night was Jamie Carragher at the heart of the Liverpool defence," says Hansen. "Carragher is 10 times a better defender than I could ever be. He is a completely different player. He is a great defender whereas I was not.

"My strengths were on the ball, positional sense and recovery pace. The way he held Chelsea at bay was unbelievable. I'm sitting there in awe of how many times he intercepted, blocked and covered. I think if we look at Liverpool greats over the years - and there have been a lot of them - Carragher is up there with the best of them.

"When you play in big games like this it is a pressurised situation. You learn to play under the pressure and that certainly improves your game.

"We've seen that at Chelsea with Frank Lampard and John Terry. It improved them and now it is improving Carragher.

"He is absolutely relishing the big-match atmosphere. Jamie has always been Mr Consistency but this season he has been amazing in that department and in the games against Juventus and Chelsea he has elevated himself to hero status. He deserves all that praise."

Gerrard: We can be legends

By Alex Livie - Sky Sports

Steven Gerrard has told Sky Sports News that the Liverpool players are determined to secure legendary status at Anfield by lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy.

Liverpool booked their place in the final in Istanbul with a thrilling win over Premiership champions Chelsea at Anfield on Tuesday.

Gerrard was one of the key performers in the win over the Blues and he is aware the players have the chance to claim their own piece of Anfield history with victory over Italian titans Milan.

"We have been disappointing domestically but we have a chance to make history and become legends at the football club and we want to grab that," Gerrard told Sky Sports News.

Gerrard says many at the club are still in shock about reaching the final of Europe's premier club competition.

"I don't think any of the players or anyone connected with the club thought about that (reaching the final)," he added.

"We have been underdogs from the start, there were some fantastic teams in the competition, but we have produced some great form in the Champions League."

Gerrard is aware that facing Carlo Ancelotti's Milan, who scraped past PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, will be tough.

"It will be a tough match," he added. "We will be up for it and fight hard and hopefully bring the cup back for the Liverpool fans."

Some Liverpool fans have accused Jose Mourinho of sour grapes for pointing to the controversial nature of Luis Garcia's goal as the defining moment in the match, but Gerrard believes the Portuguese tactician and his players deserve credit for the way they took the defeat.

"It was nice to see the Chelsea players and the manager congratulate us and I thought they took the defeat really well," added Gerrard.

Gerrard has been linked with a move to Chelsea, but he says no decision on his future will be made until after the trip to Turkey.

"I have two years to run on the four-year deal I signed and the plan was always to talk after two years," added Gerrard.

"My agent and I will sit down with the manager and Rick Parry after the Champions League final and we will talk."

Carra: You can't buy fans like ours

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

Chelsea may have the money to sign any player in the world, but Jamie Carragher believes last night's brilliant victory owed a lot to Liverpool's extraordinary supporters.

Anfield rocked like never before as Luis Garcia's goal settled the contest in the home side's favour and secured the club's first European Cup final appearance in twenty years.

Carragher said he knew the Anfield atmosphere would be awesome, but even he was left searching for the right words to adequately describe the backing the players received from the stands last night.

"Chelsea have bought great players and have an excellent manager, but you can't buy fans like ours," said Carragher.

"That atmosphere was better than anything I've known and I've been involved in some great nights recently. The games against Roma, Juventus and Olympiakos were unbelievable, but that was something else.

"Even when we were warming-up 40 minutes before the game, the crowd was as noisy as it's been for a long time. Normally you can hear DJ George playing his records, but even he was drowned out by the singing. We knew then it was going to be a special night.

"We all knew what it was going to be like and it gave us a hell of a boost.

"No disrespect to Chelsea, but their supporters aren't like ours. We've got a working class support while the majority of fans at the game last week are probably a bit more well-to-do.

"In my opinion, clubs which have that traditional core of working class fans are always going to be more passionate about football. They get involved in the game a lot more and create a much better atmosphere.

"I'm not trying to be disrespectful to them when I say that, I think it's just a fact which is proven by other grounds across the country, and there's none better than our fans or Anfield on a European night."

Liverpool restricted Chelsea to very few chances on the night, but did have to survive a nervy finish when Eidur Gudjohnsen smashed the ball wide of goal in the final minute.

"The most worrying part was the six minutes of injury-time, but I think the referee is a mate of Mourinho's and hecertainly gave them plenty of extra-time to get an equaliser," added Carragher.

"I don't think it's right to say we didn't deserve to win. Over the two games there weren't many chances for both sides. Last night Chelsea only had a free-kick from Lampard and the shot at the end from Gudjohnson.

"When you consider what a great side they are, how expensive their squad is and the fact they've just won the Premiership, I think all the credit deserves to go to us for limiting them to a few shots.

"We're in the final because over two games, that's where we deserve to be.

"The scenes at the end were superb, but we all realise we haven't won anything yet.

"There's one more game left to win. I don't care who we play. It's going to be tough, but now we want to make sure we use this win as the platform to win the whole competition."

Immense Carragher inspires Liverpool

By Matt Majendie - BBC Sport Online

At the final whistle at Anfield on Tuesday, there was no doubting the difference between a trip to Istanbul for the Champions League final and a missed opportunity -
Jamie Carragher.

The 27-year-old was an unbreakable force in defence, throwing himself into every challenge and marking Didier Drogba out of the game.

It came painfully close to coming off the rails in injury time but he just deflected Eidur Gudjohnsen's shot wide.

Gerrard described Carragher as "immense" and "unbelievable" after the match.

Carragher was equally in awe of his team-mate and must be aware how crucial the win may be to Gerrard staying in the red of Liverpool next season.

Should Gerrard turn down uprooting to the capital, Carragher could prove the deciding factor.

While many were surprised the underdogs had overcome a team 33 points ahead of them in the Premiership, for Carragher it was nothing new.

Born: 28/1/1978
Position: Defender
Club: Liverpool
First-team games: 357
First-team goals: Two
International caps: 17

The Bootle-born stopper has always just gone about his business without much fuss or praise - very much the underdog's underdog.

And even this season, when he has clearly had his best year yet, he is deemed at best England's fourth-best centre back.

Modest to the core, he credits manager Rafael Benitez and the players around him for his improvements.

Benitez deserves at least some credit; while Gerard Houllier often played Carragher in the centre of defence, his new manager has played him there full time.

That decision looks to have given a player certain to be named captain if Gerrard jumps ship great confidence.

He may not quite grab the headlines in the same way Gerrard does, but it is worth noting he was the fans' player of the season last year and must be a strong contender to double up a year on.

One fan on the 606 messageboards, appropriately-named Carradona, was in awe of him after Tuesday.

"What an absolute legend, I'm confident we would have conceded three if it wasn't for him," said Carradona. "He is an absolutely brilliant player."

Much of the praise has been of the centre back's new-found maturity.

Even the man himself admitted in a recent interview: "I've moved on from the scallywag I once was and matured a little bit."

That's not to say the humour's gone.

He is set to marry his partner Nicola on 1 July. But when asked if fans could expect to see wedding pictures in a glossy magazine, he quipped: "Nah. I've sold my wedding pictures to The Kop magazine for a pound".

Carragher is Liverpool to the core, the very essence of the city and 100% committed to the club's cause.

While speculation still mounts over Gerrard's future, Carragher is clearly going nowhere.

When asked about a possible move elsewhere, he said simply: "I'd never do that."

Anfield fans can be assured he'll stick to that pledge.

I was right, says goal-row official

By Ed Holt in Slovakia and Wayne Veysey - Evening Standard

Slovakian assistant referee Roman Slysko awarded the controversial winner by Luis Garcia which sent newly crowned Premiership champions Chelsea crashing out of the competition on a night of incredible emotion at Anfield.

Speaking today, he said he was happy he had made the right call. "I believe that my decision was correct. My first feeling and which I remain convinced of is that it was a goal. I am 100 per cent convinced that it was a goal.

"It was a very hard situation and in that kind of a situation a person only has a few hundredths of a second to react.

"From my information as well I understand that TV replays have also not been able to prove that it was not a goal.

"I saw it clearly. In my view I was adequately positioned for that situation."

The 31-year-old, a doctor by profession, added that even though some people say that a goal in such an important match should be proved beyond doubt "there will always be those kind of situations in football matches everywhere".

Chelsea head coach Jose Mourinho described it as only "50 per cent of a goal" and claimed the best side on the night had lost.

Television replays were inconclusive and the row over the goal is certain to reignite the debate over the use of goalline technology.

But Chelsea skipper John Terry was adamant that Garcia's goal should not have been allowed to stand.

"I couldn't tell from where I was but a few of the lads said the ball didn't go over the line," he said.

"William Gallas was in the way of the ball from where the linesman was but he gave it, which was a bad decision.

"If you're not sure, then don't give a goal."

Striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, who missed a great chance to win the tie for Chelsea in the dying minutes, added: "I've been told by players who were closer than me that it was very debatable.

"William Gallas had his body between the linesman and the ball and I thought the official was in a very bad position to judge it.

"It was a brave decision to give a goal without being sure."

Benitez - the European master

Sporting Life

They used to say that Brian Clough could walk on the Trent - so maybe Rafael Benitez will soon be trying the same trick on the Mersey.

The Spaniard arrived at Liverpool last June after transforming Valencia into a team that could stand up to the might of Real Madrid and Barcelona and win. Two La Liga titles in three years was testimony to that.

What Benitez achieved in Spain was akin to the way Sir Alex Ferguson broke the stranglehold of the Old Firm in Scotland while he was at Aberdeen.

For Benitez to find himself being talked of in the same breath as such football management greats as Clough and Ferguson, frankly, says it all.

But Liverpool was a real challenge for a man with little English and even less knowledge of the very special world that is the Premiership.

Many feared for him, wondering just how he could turn round the monster in distress that was Liverpool.

And Liverpool were a mess when he arrived - reeling from the months of anger and frustration that led to the downfall of Gerard Houllier and watching in dismay as Chelsea spent Roman Abramovich's pocket money. Arsenal and Manchester United also looked as far away as ever.

It seemed Liverpool were taking a downward step from which they would never recover. They had finally been beaten into submission by the new monied classes, to whom legend and history meant nothing.

But Liverpool have now shown, because of Benitez's stewardship, that their old ideals do mean something. Those manic, passionate, defiant fans who turned Anfield into a cauldron of noise against Chelsea, now adore their Spanish boss.

He has failed to fully understand the frenetic pace of the Premiership but put him on the European stage and the genius is clear for all to see.

Jose Mourinho ended up putting on German centre-back Robert Huth to play centre forward and opted for the long ball in desperation. Benitez must have almost laughed out loud at such tactical ineptitude.

The end product was that in one match, Benitez restored Liverpool to their former place amongst Europe's elite.

British football's most successful club was almost on its knees financially and mentally when Benitez arrived.

They had hung on grimly to the coat-tails of their betters, refusing to accept that they were no longer a serious player on the stage that mattered most.

Chelsea, bankrolled from near-administration to the Premiership title in a couple of years, believed that money bought everything.

But as those Liverpool fans last night showed, there is more to football than money. Money, in the city of Liverpool for sure, can't buy you love.

Liverpool's fans love their club, its traditions and the pride and respect their football team of old once brought to a poor, working-class city a million miles away from the flash Cockneys of the Kings Road.

Benitez has shown that ordinary players with fitness, organisation and belief can beat the best. They can respond to the pleading from the terraces to "make us dream" as a Kop banner announced.

The man looks like a Spanish insurance salesman. Portly, calm, certainly not excitable, but meticulous in preparation to the last detail.

There was nothing pretty about his tactics against Chelsea. It was all about tackling, running and working for a mutual cause.

If it had been an Italian team producing the display and tactics Liverpool used against Chelsea, there would have been plenty of knowing looks, nodding heads and grudging praise for a professional job well done. There would not have been any nonsense about "the best team lost" from Jose Mourinho.

This is the same Mourinho whose Porto players seemed to need little encouragement to go to ground during their successful Champions League campaign last year.

Benitez gave Mourinho a lesson in top-quality European tactics, and if he can just fashion those ideas to work better in the Premiership, Liverpool could start to become a force on their own patch rather than just the rest of Europe.

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Thor Zakariassen