Ref 'not sure' of Reds decision
By Laurent Picard - Setanta Sports
Fifa referee Martin Hansson has declared
he is not sure that the controversial last-gasp penalty he
awarded to Liverpool against Atletico Madrid should have
Steven Gerrard bumped into Mariano Pernia during the
Champions League clash at Anfield and Hansson generously
pointed to the spot in injury time.
The Reds captain took responsibility and cancelled out Maxi
Rodriguez’s opener in the 95th minute, while Atleti's
players could not believe their eyes.
Hansson has commented on his decision, and confirmed he was
not sure of himself when he whistled for penalty.
“I am not sure it was a penalty,” Hansson told Swedish TV
“From my angle, I am not sure this was a penalty.
“I am not supposed to comment on concrete plays according to
For his part, Pernia revealed the linesman apologised for
taking the decision.
“The linesman told me ‘sorry, sorry’. This fault did not
exist, Gerrard jumped on me. It is crystal clear, I do not
have anything to add.”
Rafa hails nerveless Gerrard
Rafael Benitez believes Liverpool can rely
on Steven Gerrard's nerves of steel to drag them to glory.
Once again Gerrard saved his side from defeat with a
controversial late penalty securing a Champions League draw
at home to an impressive Atletico Madrid.
Benitez no longer feels his captain's involvement at crucial
times late in a match is a surprise, with Liverpool making a
habit of staging dramatic comebacks this season.
They have scored vital goals 12 times in the last 15 minutes
of matches and those goals - out of a total of 26 in 18
matches - have earnt six wins and a draw in the dying
Gerrard's late interventions have been responsible for
victories against Middlesbrough and Portsmouth and Tuesday's
draw with Madrid, and he also scored two goals in the first
half in the opening Champions League group victory over
Benitez said: "Steven has nerves of steel, he has great
confidence in what he does on the pitch.
"We always know that in important games he is capable of
scoring at the end. This time it was a penalty, as it was
"I always have confidence that he has the calmness to score
under that sort of pressure.
"He does well in training with penalties against Pepe Reina
and Diego Cavalieri so we all have confidence in him."
Gerrard has scored 14 of his 19 penalties for Liverpool and
Benitez added: "We know that Steven will not give up, he'll
keep going right to the end and it is no surprise when he
scores such late goals now."
The debatable penalty, following a collision with Mariano
Pernia, means Liverpool and Atletico both have eight points
- with Marseille and PSV on three each - but both can
qualify for the last 16 with home wins on November 26
against Marseille and PSV respectively.
Benitez insisted the penalty was correctly given, adding:
"The referee missed a handball before the penalty, and it
was given by the linesman who was very close.
"The point was crucial because we now only have to win one
game to qualify.
"We had 22 shots, which is really good in a European match,
but the figures do not mean anything really because you have
"I felt we played much better at Tottenham at the weekend
and lost, this time we faced a team who defended very deep
and were well organised.
"We controlled everything, but not in the penalty area where
"Agger had three great chances I would have expected him to
score, especially as two of those chances were with his
favoured left foot.
"But we are not taking our chances. I am saying this now
after every game, but it is true. We must improve.
"Madrid are a very good team, they will progress in the
tournament and I believe they can beat anyone once they get
to the last 16.
"They are well organised and are very dangerous on the break
where they have players with great quality.
"We were intent on qualifying now, Marseille winning against
PSV made that possible, so we are disappointed that it could
not be achieved."
Benitez expects to have Fernando Torres back for Saturday's
home game with West Brom, the striker having missed six
games with a hamstring injury.
He said: "It all depends on Fernando, he was not happy with
his fitness so he did not play against Atletico.
"He said he was not confident, so you cannot take any risks
with a hamstring injury.
"I will talk to him during the rest of the week to see how
he is after each training session. I will also talk with the
physio and the doctor for their view but how Fernando feels
will be the key."
not up to
Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Before last night’s game there was a real
sense that Liverpool would come out wanting to kick the cat
after losing to Spurs at the weekend.
But it never really happened for us against Atletico Madrid.
Of course, Steven Gerrard has gone and got us out of jail in
the dying seconds and as we all know it’s not for the first
Okay, so the penalty was a tad controversial but while the
Madrid players protested vigorously, Stevie kept his cool
brilliantly and hammered it unerringly into the Kop end. So
for me he deserves enormous credit yet again for staying
focused when he could so easily have been distracted by the
rumpus going on around him.
But there were a couple of things in particular which struck
me about the side last night and which are niggling causes
for concern, I feel.
Firstly, I remain worried that our full backs are not
showing up to the standards we expect to see at Anfield.
First and foremost defenders have got to be able to defend.
But for Madrid’s goal Fabio Aurelio found hmself caught
upfield and he never recovered the ground as Madrid
In fact it was Albert Riera – a left winger – who tracked
back to try and block the attack.
Aurelio and Andrea Dossena are clearly vying for the left
back slot at Anfield yet it’s clear neither have convinced
Rafa Benitez. And I can understand the reasons for that.
I’m afraid I still have doubts too about Alvaro Arbeloa.
He’s tidy enough at times but when you think of some of the
great right backs we’ve had at Anfield – the names of Chris
Lawler and Phil Neal spring to mind – well, let’s just say
he’s got a lot to live up to.
Those two were famous not just for being top defenders, but
for adding an incredible number of goals too.
The other big concern is that without Torres, we look like
we’re struggling to get goals.
Robbie Keane works his socks off but isn’t a target man and
will be disappointed he isn’t getting on the score sheet
Up front I wonder whether we do, Torres aside, have an out
and out striking alternative of the quality we need.
That said, we kept battling away last night.
Madrid played with typical European nous, sitting deep and
taking us on in their own half, which made space difficult
to find and chances hard to come by.
Thankfully, when you’ve got the thrust of your captain at
hand, there’s always hope.
Credit him and Liverpool for, once again, showing they never
know they are beaten. But we can do much better.
Riera: Let's take maximum points
By Richard Buxton - Shanklygates
Albert Riera has called on his Liverpool
team mates to build on last night's draw with Atletico
Madrid by taking maximum points from their remaining two
Champions League games.
The Spanish winger, reflecting on the game in which
Liverpool trailed for over an hour until Steven Gerrard's
injury time penalty, believes that the side is strong enough
to beat Marseille and PSV Eindhoven - their remaining
opponents in Group D.
"This was definitely a very important point for us," he
"We knew when we went into this game that a win could have
been enough to take us through.
"That did not happen but a draw is still a good result and
it means that we still have the same chances to go through,
albeit with one match less to do it.
"But we will do everything we can to win our last two
matches because we want to win the group.
"We had chances in the first half and we had tried to kill
the match early on but it didn't happen for us. We didn't
play really well but sometimes it is like this.
"If we had scored first I think it would have been different
but they got the first goal and that meant they could get
men behind the ball and make things difficult for us.
"But in the second half we had more chances and created more
opportunities so even if we were a bit lucky in the end I
think we deserved to get a draw."
Agger's injury causes
problems for Liverpool
By John Edwards - Daily Mail
Rafa Benitez has been rocked by a fresh
injury worry as he attempts to steer Liverpool out of their
After starting the season with a 16-game unbeaten run,
Liverpool finally came unstuck at Tottenham on Saturday and
were seconds away from a second successive defeat, at
Anfield last night, when Steven Gerrard salvaged a
Champions' League point with an injury-time penalty against
Fernando Torres was again missing with a hamstring injury
and Daniel Agger could now join him on the sidelines after
damaging a finger in the second half of last night's 1-1
The Denmark centre-back came off for lengthy treatment near
the bench and will have a scan amid fears the finger is
With Martin Skrtel still weeks away from fitness, it would
leave Benitez with only two fit central defenders, in Jamie
Carragher and Sami Hyypia, for Saturday's tea-time kick-off
against West Brom at Anfield.
"It was painful, and no-one is too sure at the moment
whether I have suffered a break," said Agger. "I hope to be
fit for Saturday, but I will know more after the scan. It
just about finished off a frustrating night for me, because
I should have won the game for us.
"On a good day, I might have had three or even four goals,
but almost is not good enough. It is one thing creating
chances, but you have to finish them off.
"The first should have been a penalty after only two
minutes, because I was fouled, but it's no good complaining
Liverppol FC missing cutting
edge of Fernando Torres
Comment by Nick Smith - Liverpool Daily Post
When the opposing supporters are sporting
your name and number on their shirts and they’re as
disappointed as their rival fans at your absence, you know
you’ve made it.
And the fact that Fernando Torres failed to make last
night's reunion with his former employers was as big a blow
to expectation and anticipation as the failure of Diego
Maradona to grace Anfield with his presence.
Torres is indeed a big miss. For both the travelling hordes
who idolised him for so many years and those who have
inherited that hero-worship.
The key difference is, Liverpool’s anguish over his absence
goes way beyond last night.
The reason Liverpool were so keen to get qualification sewn
up was so they could keep key players fresh for resuming
their title challenge. In fact, the only reason there was so
much at stake last night was because the lack of a clinical
and ruthless finisher cost them victory in Madrid two weeks
It also cost them their unbeaten league record at the
weekend, when for most of the game they made Spurs look like
the bottom-of-the-table side they are and inexplicably
failed to cast them further adrift.
With Torres around, it’s safe to say that wouldn’t have
happened -and they might not have had to rely on an
injury-time penalty to rescue a point last night either.
When Torres limped out of Spain ’s game with Belgium last
month, his club wasn’t just losing its star striker but a
star striker bang in form.
His hot streak – that had yielded four goals from his last
two Premier League – was frustratingly suspended in mid-air.
The fact that Liverpool ’s ambitions haven’t quite yet
suffered a similar fate since is testament to the players
Benitez has had at his disposal. They are still well placed
in the league and should still sail through to the knockout
stages if the evidence of earlier meetings with Marseille
and PSV Eindhoven is anything to go by.
But this can’t go on for much longer, even if Liverpool ’s
run of games over the next month looks more like a Christmas
list than a fixture list.
Last night’s struggles to break Atletico down weren’t
confined to having nobody in the six-yard area to tap into
an open goal. It was the lack of someone with the ability to
make something happen out of nothing when it’s all as flat
as a dud firework.
The early stages of last night’s encounter were just that,
with the Spanish visitors diligently sticking to their
defensive duties, sitting back and waiting for the
counter-attacks to present themselves.
It worked to perfection when right-back Antonio Lopez’s
sublime control led to Maxi Rodriguez’s opening goal and in
terms of the tactical pattern of the game that only made
Liverpool’s task of breaking their opponents down even
Robbie Keane, as he did in the first game, perhaps best
summed up the cutting edge missing in the absence of Torres
when he found himself clean through on goalkeeper Franco
but, as he did a fortnight ago, opted for the over-elaborate
when just a straightforward blast at goal would have done.
The chronic lack of invention was such that many in the Kop
must have wished they were cheering Luis Garcia’s touchline
warm-up in anticipation of him entering the fray in a red
shirt rather than a blue one.
But it’s Torres’s return that is really longed for, which is
little wonder given that Daniel Agger looked the most likely
outlet for an equaliser for much of the second half.
His comeback is now more than a week overdue based on the
original prognosis but it is worth remembering there have
been times during his spell on the sidelines when the
message from his team-mates has appeared to be: "Take your
time, there’s no rush."
Dirk Kuyt filled the void admirably with his double strike
Wigan , while the whole team did likewise with their
compelling performance at Stamford Bridge .
But the Dutchman can’t be expected to sustain the kind of
strike rate that Torres has delivered sicne bursting on to
the English football scene and it's clear Benitez's squad
can't sustain a successful campaign while he's spending game
closer to his girlfriend than his fellow strikers.
Although one of the biggest problems now is that there
aren't too many of them about. David Ngog is one for the
future rather than the current unforgiving deep end of a
vital Champions League game.
In the final analysis of it, defeat may have been avoided.
But nobody can swerve the fact that the extra rehabilitation
time that has denied Torres a reunion with his old pals had
better start coming to fruition.
Because right now a reunion with his current teammates is
far more important.
Pernia upset with
By Alex Livie - Setanta Sports
Atletico Madrid defender Mariano Pernia has claimed he
received an apology from an assistant referee after
Liverpool had won a controversial late penalty on Tuesday.
Steven Gerrard tumbled under minimal contact from Pernia in
injury-time, before dusting himself down and slotting home
to earn The Reds a point.
Atletico were hugely disappointed to concede so late in
proceedings and Pernia’s mood was not improved by the
assistant seemingly admitting his mistake.
"It was a very ugly decision by the linesman, but we all
make mistakes, us players too, and I think the linesman made
one here," he said.
"In nobody's eyes was that a penalty. We're very hurt to
have drawn the game in what was practically the final
"It was a nonexistent foul, Gerrard threw himself on top of
me. It couldn't have been more clear.
"The linesman said 'sorry, sorry' after the penalty was
given. He had time to correct it and go back on it but he
Gerrard: It was a penalty
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard reflected on Liverpool's
last-gasp draw with Atletico Madrid at Anfield and insisted:
The Reds remained on course for Champions League
qualification after Gerrard picked himself up from being
fouled in the area and slotted the spot kick high into the
The final whistle was met with vociferous appeals from the
Madrid players who felt the officials had got the decision
wrong - but Gerrard insists there should be no controversy
around the call.
"I'll have to have another look at it, but in my mind it was
a penalty," he said. "I got there first and he came into the
back of me. If it had happened anywhere else on the pitch it
would be a free kick, so it was a penalty.
"I can understand their disappointment because of the timing
of it. If it had happened at the other end we would have
been livid. But that's football and we have to move on.
"It was a big result for us tonight and a big point. Good
teams usually don't lose two games in a row and so it was
important we got something.
"The first half wasn't good enough and we know that. We
upped it in the second half, played at a higher tempo and
pressed harder. We're still in a strong position in the
"We showed a lot of character tonight and we have to take
that into the next league game."
salvages Reds draw
By Tom Adams - Setanta Sports
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard took
advantage of the softest of penalty awards to score five
minutes into injury time and hold Atletico Madrid to a 1-1
draw at Anfield, leaving the race to finish top of Champions
League Group D wide open.
The Reds –again deprived of former Atletico hero and star
striker Fernando Torres due to a hamstring injury – had
fallen behind to a lovely touch-and-finish from Maxi
Rodriguez in the first half and looked destined to a second
consecutive defeat after wasting a host of chances.
But, deep into injury time, Gerrard made another dramatic
late intervention on a European night at Anfield as he
somehow won a penalty after jumping into Mariano Pernia,
sparking a justifiably furious reaction from the visiting
side who were on course for the last 16 with Marseille
beating PSV Eindhoven.
Gerrard stepped up with trademark coolness and beat Leo
Franco emphatically from 12 yards to leave both clubs level
on eight points from four games, five points ahead of both
Marseille and PSV in Group D.
The disappointing news prior to kick-off was that the game
had been deprived of its two most electric performers, with
Torres failing to make the squad against his former side due
to injury and Sergio Aguero, as he was at the Vicente
Calderon, dropped to the bench by Javier Aguirre.
It felt like turning up to a Barack Obama rally only to see
Gordon Brown take the stage, and the underwhelming sentiment
was only deepened by Aguirre’s decision to sideline former
Reds Luis Garcia and Florent Sinama-Pongolle – both of whom
played prominent roles in Liverpool’s Champions League
victory of 2005.
A low key start duly ensued – aside from an early Gerrard
corner when Dan Agger felt he was fouled by Maxi when
failing to connect properly to a close-range shot – and it
required a glorious piece of invention from Xabi Alonso to
create the first decent chance of the game after 15 minutes.
The Spaniard sought out Robbie Keane with a wonderful
50-yard pass and after the Republic of Ireland matched the
ball with an expert piece of chest control to elude Johnny
Heitinga, he rifled a shot narrowly wide of Leo Franco’s
Atletico should have opened the scoring on 19 minutes when
Simao Sabrosa – scorer of the late goal in Madrid – somehow
fired over the bar from close range after a cross from
Mariano Pernia, but Liverpool begun to exert a greater
control of the game despite the visitors’ wonderful use of
Alonso continued to be Benitez’s chief architect and another
soaring pass found Albert Riera at the back post. The second
Spaniard was unable to match the quality of the first though
and his tricky volley flew high into the Anfield stand.
The tide felt like it was turning decisively in Liverpool’s
favour when only an excellent clearance from Luis Perea
prevented Steven Gerrard from getting a shot away and Keane
almost rounded Leo Franco before the keeper got a touch on
the ball, but just eight minutes before half-time they fell
1-0 down to a brilliant goal.
Antonio Lopez killed a long pass from Heitinga with a superb
touch on the right and then played the ball inside to Maxi.
The Argentina international’s first touch was a lovely dink
to take him clear of Jamie Carragher and his second was a
ruthless finish that sped past Jose Reina and into the far
corner of the net.
The second half opened with a huge appeal from Liverpool for
a penalty but referee Martin Hansson was unsighted as the
ball struck the arm of Perea and Atletico were very
fortunate to see him wave play-on.
Liverpool, no doubt stung by the sense of injustice, pushed
on and Agger almost drew his side level on 57 minutes when
beating Leo Franco to an in-swinging Fabio Aurelio free-kick
from the right. Unfortunately for the Dane his header flew
just inches over the bar.
Agger was in the thick of things again on 64 minutes when
the ball fell kindly to him after a Dirk Kuyt header back
across the face of goal, but his acrobatic volley was too
close to Leo Franco and Atleti survived once more.
Still the chances came and went for Liverpool as even
Gerrard – so often the hero on European nights at Anfield –
found his finishing wanting after a glorious one-two with
Keane that started with the skipper finding his team-mate
with a lovely backheel.
Aguero was summoned off the bench after 71 minutes but the
Argentina star failed to effect a change in the course of
the game and Liverpool still poured forward. Agger, yet
again, found himself a central figure and the defender was
guilty of a horrendous miss on 83 minutes when he headed
When even Jamie Carragher joined the fray with a shot from
20 yards that Leo Franco tipped over the bar, and with Keane
substituted, it was clear that Liverpool were crying out for
the cutting edge of Torres.
But the man who spent 12 years at Atletico was not need as
Gerrard, as he so often does, rose to the fore deep into
injury time, winning a distinctly dodgy penalty from referee