After The Match 


Galatasaray-Liverpool 3-2 (2-1)         5.12.06                     CL
Goals: Fowler (22, 89)     
Necati Ates (24), Okan Buruk (28), Ilic (80)
Team: Dudek, Peltier, Carragher, Agger, Paletta, Riise, Pennant, Alonso, Guthrie, Fowler, Bellamy
Subs: Garcia (Guthrie 65), Crouch (Bellamy 74), Roque (Alonso 84)
Not used: Martin, Anderson, Darby, Kuyt
Yellow: Pennant (86)
Red: None
Referee: Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal)
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Fouls conceded:


for bad mistakes..."
     Rafael Benitez

0612: Benitez excited by spending power
0612: Xabi: Bring on Barca
0612: Positives in Euro defeat
0512: Benitez bemoans mistakes
0512: Carra plays down defeat
0512: Reds not galled by Gala setback

Benitez excited by spending power

By Paul Walker - PA Sport

Rafael Benitez admits he is relishing the prospect of being able to spend big in the transfer market if the proposed Liverpool takeover is completed.

The Anfield boss was anticipating the new "big picture" and an exciting future as he brought his squad back from Turkey following the disappointing - but largely unimportant - Champions League Group C defeat by Galatasaray in Istanbul.

Liverpool were already confirmed as group winners, and can now contemplate the knockout stage draw later this month which could see them paired with second-placed finishers Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Roma or Barcelona.

That is an exciting prospect for Benitez, as is the potential takeover of the club by Dubai International Capital - news of which has dominated Liverpool's passage this week into the next stage of this season's tournament.

Due diligence will now have to be completed before the 450million deal can go ahead, with the prospect of major transfer funds being released by the Maktoum family, the backers of the proposed buy-out.

And Benitez clearly believes he will soon be able to compete in the transfer market with Europe's big guns, including Chelsea.

Benitez said: "The big picture now is clear. This investment can help us for the future.

"We can have a big stadium, more fans seeing us and also a lot of money.

"That will help us for sure. We will be able to compete at the top end of the transfer market and that is a good prospect for me.

"It is important for a club like ours to have this level of investment, and it is important for the manager, too.

"You can consider buying certain players and you will know that the club is behind you. If they have enough money it will certainly help us for the future.

"Maybe in the future we will have more money. It is a great possibility."

He added: "It is important for the club to have the prospect of such new investment, we are pleased and so I believe are our supporters.

"If this turns out to be the right thing for this club it will be fantastic. We do have to be careful, we cannot just change all the team straight away, and we would not want to because we have some fine players already.

"It would be wrong to change everything. This team has won trophies while the chairman has spent three years trying to find investment."

The prospect of greater buying power for the future also inspired midfielder Xabi Alonso.

He said: "If the takeover is good for the club then obviously I am happy. It's not done yet, but really close.

"They will bring new ideas, and money. The new stadium is a priority and that will help the level that the team can reach as well as bringing in new players."

Alonso figured in Benitez's experimental side in Istanbul, while other senior men - Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Steve Finnan and Jose Reina - were left at home to rest ahead of the busy December and new year period.

He said: "You never want to lose a Champions League game, but we had already done the job and there was not that much pressure on us.

"It was harder to concentrate because we already knew we had qualified, and the three points were not important.

"We started well with Robbie Fowler's first goal, but then I made a silly mistake and within a few minutes they had equalised and were leading.

"It was logical to rest some players who had been involved in a lot of matches, and that gave us the chance to bring in some youngsters. It was a good chance to see how they performed.

"It was good for them and for the club. It was very good experience for them.

"It's hard to come into tough Champions League away games, but the lads have to get used to this level. And the more minutes they play the better they will get."

Xabi: Bring on Barca

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Xabi Alonso claims the Reds do not care who they face in the next round of the Champions League even if it's the holders Barcelona.

The Spaniard insists there are no easy draws and reckons he and his teammates thrive on being underdogs anyway.

"We know whoever we get in the next round will be really tough but it will also be exciting," he said.

"You can see the teams who will be involved and how strong those who finished in second are.

"We'll have to be ready. Real or Barcelona could be the next game, but we've played a few games in Spain in the last few years and always won there, so if we meet either of those clubs we'll know it will be a massive game for the club, but we'll see.

"When we won in 2005, we were never favourites in any game we played, and depending on the draw that maybe the case again, which could suit us.

"It was definitely good the year we won it when everyone thought we would lose to Juve and then Chelsea and Milan. I hope that would be a good omen for us."

The draw for the knock-out stages takes place a week on Friday.

Positives in Euro defeat

By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

Last night's match and result was obviously in stark contrast to our previous visit to the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul.

I was disappointed though because I always believe you need to do all you can to win every game you play.

It fuels the winning mentality and strength of purpose which a team needs to win at the top.

But if we had to lose one game this season, then we'd all have chosen this one.

A few youngsters got some important experience - and some of our key players got a chance to sit it out and rest. So let's hope normal service is resumed this Saturday when Fulham come to Anfield.

Benitez bemoans mistakes

By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez blamed bad mistakes for his side's defeat to Galatasaray.

The Reds slipped to their first defeat in Group C after going down 3-2 at the Ataturk Stadium.

Robbie Fowler scored two goals for Liverpool, but it was not enough for a much-changed Reds side with several youngsters getting a chance to impress.

Benitez was unhappy with his side's defending, but he conceded he knew it would be difficult for his players to be up for the game with top spot in the group already secured.

"We paid for bad mistakes - you cannot expect to win if you make mistakes like that at this level," bemoaned Benitez.

"I always felt it was going to be a difficult game for the players - they knew they were already group winners and the job had been done.

"So it was more difficult to stage a comeback in such circumstances, as you would in a cup final."

Benitez defended his decision to rest several of his top stars with the likes of Lee Peltier and Danny Guthrie getting a rare chance in the first team.

"I wanted to see my players doing well but also to realise that there are younger team-mates who are waiting for their chance," added Benitez.

"I have rested some senior players, because we have such a busy next couple of months with lots of games. I wanted to see what futures there are for the young players and to be able to plan for that future."

Galatasaray manager Erik Gerets believes Liverpool can go far in the competition with a full strength team.

"It was a difficult game for Liverpool," said Gerets. "They had already done the job they set out to do, before even coming to Istanbul.

"They are a very good team. It is difficult to judge whether they can go all the way - but with their best players, they can win the tournament.

"I would certainly like to see that, because I like Rafa Benitez and admire his teams. But there are some very good teams left in the tournament."

Carra plays down defeat

By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports

Jamie Carragher played down Liverpool's 3-2 defeat to Galatasaray on Tuesday.

With top spot already secured in Group C a below-strength Liverpool side fell to their first defeat in Europe this season.

Carragher, who captained Liverpool in the absence of the rested Steven Gerrard, shrugged off the defeat as there was nothing riding on the game.

"We've already qualified top of the group," said Carragher.

"We came here and we wanted to win but there's a lot of young lads out there and it's a great experience for them.

"Of course we're disappointed we got beaten.

"The Champions League is the top level. They showed that they're a good side.

"They gave us a scare at Anfield when we supposedly had our full team out."

Carragher also welcomed the prospect of a possible takeover of the club with Dubai International Capital in talks with the Merseysiders.

"We don't know too much about that. That's for the men at the top of the club," added Carragher.

"The chairman's always been very generous in buying players through all his time here and if it's even better then great."

Reds not galled by Gala setback


Liverpool were losers on their return to the Ataturk Stadium, with Galatasaray sealing a 3-2 Champions League win over the Group C winners.

Robbie Fowler scored twice but Liverpool just did not have the heart or interest to produce another 3-3 thriller in Istanbul.

Fowler put the visitors into an early lead at the same stadium that saw the Reds produce the thrilling three-goal comeback that put them on the way to the Champions League crown 18 months ago.

But with nothing riding on this final Group C match, and a seriously weakened side on the pitch, they were unable to stop Galatasaray claiming some pride and their first group win in a disappointing campaign for the Turkish champions.

Fowler headed a second with just a couple of minutes left, but in truth Liverpool did not really deserve to take anything from a match that meant little to them, having already won this group.

They now will await the last 16 draw later this month and put their European dreams in cold storage until March.

By then they will almost certainly have new Dubai-based owners to oversee the knock-out stages.

Liverpool's return to the Ataturk was a far cry from that last famous visit.

Back then this white-elephant of a venue was rocking to the sound of 40,000-plus Liverpool fans - this time around a ground that is barely used these days was not even half full.

That was the sad reality of a match with little importance other than pride and the 500,000 prize money.

And it gave Liverpool the chance to blood youngsters Lee Peltier and Danny Guthrie in their European debuts, while Jerzy Dudek was in goal to make what will be his swansong appearance for the club on the ground where he was a penalty shoot-out hero of Liverpool's fifth European Cup triumph.

Jamie Carragher captained the side, again in a holding midfield role again with Guthrie on the left of midfield and John Arne Riise returning to left-back.

It took just two minutes for Dudek to be scrambling across the goal in which he conceded three against AC Milan, though this time he was stretching for a curling free-kick from Sabri Sarioglu that just cleared the far post.

The youthfulness of Liverpool's central defence, comprising Daniel Agger and Gabriel Paletta, gave cause for concern at times, Peltier also having trouble with Marcelo Carrusca's runs.

Umit Karan, who scored twice for Galatasaray in their 3-2 defeat at Anfield, managed to get to a 20th minute free-kick ahead of Dudek's punch that soared over before Liverpool struck.

Craig Bellamy's left-wing cross cleared Stjepan Tomas' leap and fell into Fowler's path, the veteran sending the ball into the net off his thigh.

But Liverpool's joy was short-lived. Two minutes after Fowler's effort, the Turks were level.

Xabi Alonso's hurried ball into the heart of his own defence split Paletta and Agger and was snapped up by Necati Ates, who surged into the box to guide his shot past Dudek into the bottom corner.

It got worse for Liverpool four minutes later. Paletta's header from a corner fell perfectly 20 yards out for Okan Buruk, who met the dropping ball on the volley and sent it curling away from Dudek's dive to give Galatasaray the lead.

Liverpool had kept clean sheets in six of their previous seven matches, and both goals were certainly avoidable.

They responded with a couple of efforts from Carragher and a stabbed shot from Bellamy, saved by Faryd Mondragon.

It could have been worse for Liverpool before the break, Dudek needing an outstretched leg to stop Sarioglu adding to the lead.

Galatasaray had lost the injured Necati Ates seconds before the break, Sasa Ilic taking over, with Emre Asik replaced at half-time by Tolga Seyhan.

But the changes failed to halt Galatasaray's growing control. Teenager Peltier was clearly being targeted, constantly attacked by two men. And he needed to haul back Sarioglu fractionally outside the box to avoid the Gala man getting clear on the left.

It could have been three for the hosts on 53 minutes when Umit Karan's flicked header from Carrusca's free-kick hit the inside of the far post and somehow bounced out.

Liverpool were sloppy, with continual loss of possession, although from one chipped Alonso free-kick, Fowler shot on the turn only to see the clever effort blocked by Mondragon.

Liverpool withdrew Guthrie and sent on Luis Garcia, but still the passing was poor and the hosts were snapping away in midfield, intent on getting something from a disappointing European campaign.

The Reds sent on Peter Crouch for Bellamy, which just underlined what boss Rafael Benitez thought of the match, preferring to have the Welshman fit for Saturday's home game with Fulham.

Galatasaray then withdrew Carrusca, sending on Mehmet Guven. And it was Guven on 79 minutes who got past Riise to lay the ball back for substitute Sasa Ilic to side-foot home the third.

Miki Roque came on for his debut in place of Alonso while Pennant was booked near the end, and it was Pennant's chipped cross that set up Fowler for a headed second with two minutes left.

But by then it was too much to expect another 3-3 draw by Liverpool on
this pitch.

backbutton.gif (1697 bytes)

Thor Zakariassen