Rafa: We have
our destiny back
Rafael Benitez claimed Liverpool's dramatic victory
over Deportivo La Coruna has put their Champions League
destiny "back in our own hands".
Liverpool are now level on points with Olympiakos at the
top of Group A, and if they win in Monaco later in the
month will be certain of progress to the next stage.
Benitez said: "It is all back in our own hands now, it
was a great win for us and I was delighted with what I
feel was the best Liverpool I have seen.
"As far as my feelings about winning in Spain, that is
really not important. It is important for Liverpool to
win, it is not important in what country it is."
The Reds lost Xabi Alonso before the game with a calf
injury, to add to the loss of Djibril Cisse and Steven
And Benitez said: "It was decided that Xabi could not
play more than 45 minutes, but in the end because of the
way that Dietmar Hamann and Igor Biscan performed, we
did not need to change things until right at the end of
"Depor are a good team and if you allow them to keep
possession they can be very dangerous indeed.
"But we knew that if we hit them on the counter-attack
it would make them nervous."
Benitez praised the outstanding Biscan, saying: "It is
important for other players in the squad to play well
when they do come into the side, and that is what Igor
"It helps with the confidence of everyone in the squad
who is not always in the team when they see something
like that happen."
Deportivo coach Javier Irureta said: "Liverpool played
very well and we just could not break them down.
"I know we have now gone six games at home in Europe
without scoring, but that does not reflect our overall
performances. But this time we did not play well."
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Djimi Traore says Liverpool were determined to
dedicate victory in La Coruna to heartbroken team mate
Traore was one of many outstanding performers in the
Riazor Stadium as a Jorge Andrade own goal secured a
famous win in Spain.
The French full-back admits the players have been
affected by the horrific nature of Cisse's injury.
He hopes last night's win will lift the striker's
spirits as he recovers in a Merseyside hospital.
"Everyone has been thinking about Djibril since
Saturday," said Traore.
"We all wanted to come here and do well for him. All the
players spoke about dedicating this win to him because
we all hope he recovers soon.
"Djibril is my friend and I know how sad he feels. He
has lost his first year at Liverpool and that's not easy
for him but I know how determined he is to come back. I
wanted to call him straight after the final whistle and
say 'that was for you.'"
Traore has enjoyed a new lease of life since his recall
at left-back. Both he and Igor Biscan would have been
considered unlikely heroes a few weeks ago, but both are
reaping the rewards of a fresh start under Rafa Benitez.
"The fact players such as myself and Igor Biscan can
come into a game like this and do well shows we have a
strong squad," said Traore.
"It takes a good performance to come here and win so
well without Steven Gerrard and Djibril Cisse.
"I wouldn't say I feel I've become a new player under
Benitez, but I do feel I have the confidence of the
"I try to do everything he asks me to do on the pitch
and so far things have gone okay."
Liverpool can ensure qualification into the last 16 by
defeating Monaco in their next European fixture.
Traore added: "We know we haven't been playing the same
way away as we have at home, but we came to Spain with a
lot of determination and confidence and that showed."
Benitez delighted with Liverpool step forward
By Miguel Vidal - World Soccer
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said his team turned
in a near-perfect performance, re-igniting their bid for
a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a
valuable 1-0 win at Deportivo Coruna.
"This was one of the best Liverpool performances I've
seen since I took over," the former Valencia coach said
after an own goal by Deportivo defender Jorge Andrade
handed them victory.
"We were very solid at the back and looked good on the
break. This was an important step forward for us because
we needed these three points."
Qualification from Group A now looks to be a three-horse
race with Olympiakos leading the way on seven points
from four games after their 1-0 win at home to Monaco.
Liverpool are also on seven in second place, while last
season's finalists Monaco are a point adrift in third.
Benitez, who led Valencia to triumph in both the Spanish
championship and the UEFA Cup last season, said his
tactics against his Primera Liga opponents had paid off
exactly as he had hoped.
"We knew Depor were a great side who are not having much
luck at the moment and we wanted to make them nervous
with our quick counter-attacks and that's what
Liverpool were given an early break when Andrade turned
a John Arne Riise cross into his own net under pressure
from Milan Baros in the 14th minute.
"They played a very serious game," said Depor coach
Javier Irureta. "They were physically stronger and
better than us both at the back and in midfield.
"We played quite well but lacked spark in the last third
of the pitch. The own goal affected us psychologically
and players who usually have good control of the ball
lost it far too often as we just kept making too many
Depor, who reached the semi-finals last season and have
qualified from the first group phase in each of their
previous four appearances in the competition, remain
anchored to the bottom of the table on two points.
Irureta said he had not given up hope, however.
"Of course it's going to be very difficult to qualify
now, but while there's a slim chance we have to hang on
to it," he said.
battle past Depor
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool produced a gritty display in Spain to beat
Deportivo La Coruna 1-0.
Rafa Benitez's men fought hard for the entire match, and
Jorge Andrade's early own goal settled the match in
Liverpool could have gone into the break 3-0 up after a
confident first 45 minutes, but they were on the back
foot for most of the second period and had to dig in to
grind out the result, although Depor did not create
enough chances to warrant an equaliser.
Liverpool could have been ahead inside a minute when
Luis Garcia slipped in Milan Baros, who was clean
through on goal.
However, the Cezch Republic ace tried to round Jose
Molina but the ball bobbled off his shin and enabled the
keeper to pounce on the ball.
Sergio flashed a just wide from 25 yards after five
minutes to signal Depor's intent to grab a goal in a
game they thought they would have to win.
Liverpool had started brightly though and took a 14th
minute lead when Jorge Andrade was forced to stab the
ball into his own net from close range under pressure
Igor Biscan was a late starter in place of Xabi Alonso,
but he was instrumental in the goal as he skilfully
powered through the middle of the park before finding
John Arne Riise on the left and his low cross was put in
The hosts were probing with long balls forward but The
Reds always threatened on the break, and Riise nearly
doubled the advantage four minutes before the break as
his shot was initially saved by Molina, with the rebound
hacked off the line by Andrade.
Javier Irureta's men came out with renewed purpose in
the second half and almost drew level when substitute
Pablo Amo rose at the far post but could not connect
with his attempted header.
Biscan was in there desperate to reach the ball but only
succeeded to elbow Chris Kirkland in the face - but the
Liverpool keeper was able to continue after lengthy
Depor dominated possession and Liverpool were forced to
battle hard to quell the threat, with Djimi Traore in
particular coming up with some superb challenges.
Luis Garcia could have settled the tie with five minutes
left to play when put through by Baros, but he was
inches away from getting the ball under control.
Liverpool had a couple of other chances on the break but
could not put the game to bed, ensuring a nervy last few
minutes, but they held out comfortably in the end to
grab a vital win.
The Reds' hard-fought victory puts them back on track
for progression into the next phase, while Depor are on
the verge of elimination from the tournament.