Jamie Carragher - a master in defence.
By Phil McNulty - BBC Sport Online
Take your mind back to the first week of January - the
week when Arsene Wenger was hailed as the great visionary
and Rafael Benitez as a bungler who did not know his best
Arsenal dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup on the Saturday
then became the first visiting side to score six at Anfield
for 77 years in a Carling Cup tie on the Tuesday.
Wenger's brilliant band of youngsters ran Liverpool ragged,
with Benitez accused of betraying Anfield's great traditions
by fielding weakened sides.
Liverpool supporters voiced disapproval, but Benitez was
unrepentant, effectively saying he had not come to Anfield
to win the Carling Cup.
He wanted the Premiership or the Champions League.
Arsenal and Wenger, in contrast, were almost obliterated by
the bouquets hurled in their direction. The world was at
How we laughed. At Benitez.
Turn the clock forward to where we stand after a dramatic
two nights of Champions League football and who is laughing
Wenger's season has collapsed in the space of 10 days that
have damaged Arsenal's image and left them empty-handed in
their glittering new Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal were outstanding in defeat against Chelsea in a
Carling Cup final that ended in acrimony, but were then
promptly dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackburn.
And the Champions League exit at the hands of PSV Eindhoven
capped a miserable 10 days.
Benitez, on the other hand, has been hailed as one of the
finest tactical brains in football after meticulously
plotting Barcelona's downfall to reach the last eight.
Arsenal went the way we always knew they would. Passing the
opposition into submission, then missing the chances that
should have sent them through.
The glitter has been taken off Wenger's golden generation -
for now at least.
Benitez is an altogether more pragmatic figure. If you want
romance, send flowers but don't look for it in his football
He deals in the small details, whereas Wenger is an
admirable man of footballing principle who embraces the
But after two seasons without a trophy, it may be time for
Wenger to adopt a little of Benitez's hard-nosed realism.
No-one would suggest for one second Wenger is under
pressure, but two seasons without a trophy is not good news
for Arsenal as they settle into a new home.
Benitez's insistence that he was seeing the bigger picture
has arguably made Liverpool the best-equipped of the
Premiership trio still in the Champions League to go on and
win the trophy.
And that statement is made with the knowledge that
Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson have set their heart
on reclaiming the trophy.
The Spaniard still fails to nail down the Premiership, but
he has no peers when it comes to plotting a route around
And Liverpool's fans will start to see uncanny echoes of
2005, when they emerged from the shadows to win the trophy
Examine the evidence.
Benitez was criticised for fielding a below-strength team in
an FA Cup defeat at Burnley, but then a succession of
high-quality opponents fell by the wayside in Europe.
Make no mistake, no team in the draw will want to be paired
with Liverpool in the quarter-final.
And this is not just because of the prospect of facing
Steven Gerrard or confronting The Kop. It is also the fact
that they will have to out-smart Benitez.
Wenger will be a miserable man after their loss.
He is a bad loser at the best of times, and three hammer
blows in less than a fortnight will not be well-received.
Unthinkable as it may seem, maybe it is time he put his
principles - laudable though they are - to one side and put
a little bit of the Benitez philosophy into his talented but
flawed Arsenal side.
He must dwell on that while Benitez eyes up another
Champions League crown - but wasn't that what he said he was
doing after losing 6-3 to Arsenal in the Carling Cup?
Tuesday will live
By Mark Platt - LFC Official Website
Pepe Reina admits the memories of eliminating Barcelona
from the Champions League will stay with him forever.
Liverpool secured their place in the last eight of the
competition on a memorable night against Reina's former club
at Anfield on Tuesday.
The Spanish keeper was helpless to prevent a 1-0 defeat on
the night but the Reds held out to progress on the away
goals rule courtesy of their famous 2-1 victory in the Nou
Camp a fortnight earlier.
"To win the tie felt so good and it's a night I won't ever
forget. I feel very proud to have been a part of such a
historic night for this club," says the Madrid-born 24-year
"We had many chances in the first half and could have had a
couple of goals.
"Barca didn't play so well in the first half because we
didn't let them. But in the second half as we got a little
tired they moved the ball really well.
"We knew if they scored it would be tricky. We suffered a
bit towards the end but it meant so much to hold on."
Reina has also joined the growing chorus from within Anfield
who believe Tuesday's man-of-the-match Jamie Carragher
should be handed a regular starting place in the England
"Carra was a rock again and I'm really proud to play in the
same team as him," he added.
"I'm not the English manager but what I do know is that he
is a great player.
"He showed everyone once again how we can perform against a
great team with great players.
"The most important thing is that at Liverpool we rate him
very highly and he's a very important player for us."
Benitez hails Carragher class
By Paul Walker - PA Sport
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez cannot understand why
Jamie Carragher is not one of England's first-choice central
The 29-year-old was outstanding in the 1-0 defeat to
Barcelona which saw the Reds progress to the quarter-finals
of the Champions League on away goals after a 2-1 win at the
During a tense 90 minutes at Anfield Carragher managed to
shackle the combined talents of Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o,
drawing fulsome praise from a usually reserved Benitez.
"It surprises me that Jamie is not a regular in the England
team," said the Spaniard of the player who has won 32 caps,
of which only 18 have been in the starting line-up.
"I don't like praising just one player after a performance
like that against Barcelona. Everyone contributed. The team,
all of them, were giving something to the team in a
"But it was an astonishing performance from Jamie. When
defenders like Jamie have to play against world-class
players like Ronaldinho, it is important that they do not
make mistakes - and he didn't.
"He is such a good defender against the very best players
and, yes, it is a surprise that such a really good defender
does not play every game for his country."
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard agreed with Benitez's
assessment of Carragher's performance and importance to the
He said: "Over the two legs, Carra has been phenomenal.
Maybe there are a few outside Liverpool who are surprised by
how good he has been but it is no surprise to me or anyone
else who has seen him just get better and better every
"I look around at the defenders across Europe and the rest
of the world, and I really do not see anyone who is better
than him. I definitely would not swap him for anyone.
"I also know the England manager Steve McClaren was in the
crowd at Anfield against Barcelona, and after seeing a
performance like that, it is going to make his next team
selection very interesting."
Benitez also praised the other members of his defence who
kept Barca down to just one goal - and that coming from
substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen 15 minutes before time.
"Alvaro Arbeloa, Steve Finnan, all of them were fantastic.
It is not fair to talk of just one," said Benitez.
"Jamie was exceptional, I cannot disagree with that, but all
of my team were fantastic on such an occasion.
"It is hard to contain Barcelona all the time. They
stretched us and have wonderful players in all areas and it
is impossible to maintain a high-pressure game all the time
in those conditions.
"That is why individual performances sometimes hold the
Carragher insists Liverpool are now full of confidence as
they wait to learn their quarter-final opponents in Friday's
"The club has got a great history in Europe but besides
winning finals this is probably the biggest result in Europe
we've ever had," said the Bootle-born defender.
"Barcelona are the best club side in the world, even though
we've knocked them out.
"Yes, we were hanging on with 10-12 minutes to go and we
were just praying for the whistle.
"We didn't realise until a few seconds after the referee
blew that it was all over with all the noise, and we got
there in the end."
Benitez, too, can see belief growing within the squad.
"We deserved to win over two legs, we were really good. We
pressed hard, defended high up the pitch and made it very
difficult for them," he added
"Against as good a team as Barcelona with tremendous
players, if you can keep them away from your box for most of
the night and frustrate them like we did, that is a great
"We were prepared for the examination of our quality and
character. My team were focused all the time, really
concentrating, and their approach to the game was one of
confidence that they could win the tie.
"We now have the confidence needed to play at this level of
the Champions League.
"All the games are difficult but we are proving to ourselves
that we can play at this level.
"Everyone contributed. The team, all of them, were giving
Due to Liverpool's progression in the Champions League their
Easter Monday home Premiership match against Middlesbrough
has been postponed but a new date has yet to be finalised.
Barcelona could have few complaints about their Champions
League exit at the hands of Liverpool, according to the
consensus in the Spanish press today.
Barcelona, the defending European champions, were knocked
out by Rafael Benitez’s team on the away goals rule despite
winning yesterday’s second leg 1-0.
Former Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen gave Barca hope with
a 75th-minute strike at Anfield, but Frank Rijkaard’s team
were unable to get a second goal and, according to Spanish
daily Mundo Deportivo, it took Barca too long to get going.
“Rijkaard’s team woke up too late,” said the paper, whose
front-page headline was simply “The End”, in English.
AS also went for an English headline for their match report,
saying: “Bye bye Barcelona.”
“Gudjohnsen scores at Anfield, but they lacked another goal.
Rijkaard lined up with three defenders, but Barca created
little danger. Liverpool could have scored a number of goals
before the break.”
Sport was more sympathetic to Barca’s cause, saying: “They
fell with honour.”
“Liverpool were devastating in the first half, but in the
second Barca deserved more,” added the newspaper.
Sport did not seem overly impressed with Barca’s formation
though, saying: “The 3-4-3 was not magical.”
“The reigning champion of the Champions League fell in a tie
which was lost at the Nou Camp a fortnight ago.”
Madrid-based Marca also noted how Barca’s attacking line-up
failed to fire at Anfield, despite Rijkaard starting with
all three of his superstar strikers: Samuel Eto’o,
Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi.
“The ’great trident’ was not enough,” Marca reported.
“Rijkaard accommodates his three magicians, but it did not
“Rijkaard started with Messi, Ronaldinho and Eto’o for the
first time in more than 150 days.
“With them on the pitch Barcelona had succeeded in their
greatest dates in the last two years. Only in the Supercopa
against Sevilla have they failed.
“Yesterday, the same as in Monaco, Barcelona fell with them
on the pitch. None of the three ’cracks’ showed their best
level and few times could they break through the spider’s
web of Rafa Benitez’s defence.
“Barca gave up their crown at the mythical Anfield without
showing why they were the champions.”
Benitez is a master tactician
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
As mind games go, Frank Rijkaard’s was always doomed
“It is great to play against a team whose manager already
knows everything,” he sneered, on the eve of last night’s
Champions League decider.
“The people who know everything and say they know everything
are the ones who know the least amount.”
The jibe barely registered with Rafael Benitez.
Because any irony intended by Barcelona’s famous Dutch coach
was exploded by one inescapable truth.
In the European arena – and particularly against Spanish
opposition – Benitez actually does know almost everything.
Look at last night’s evidence.
Rijkaard started with a 4-3-3 formation, just as Benitez had
Alvaro Arbeloa was handed a home debut and asked to
suffocate the influence of the extravagantly talented Messi.
The tactic largely succeeded.
And, with Barcelona’s influence growing, as a titanically
tense match wore on, Benitez introduced a series of tactical
reshuffles which blunted Barca and carried his flagging team
over the finishing line.
The Kop deserved its post-match plaudits, as did the utterly
faultless Jamie Carragher, and the inspirational Steven
But this latest European triumph was largely another success
for Liverpool’s thoughtful Spanish manager.
Benitez is a European coach, and in the technical arena of
European football he is peerless.
A pre-match like-for-like comparison would have sent most
Reds fans scurrying for cover.
Eto’o or Bellamy? Ronaldinho or Kuyt? Messi or Pennant?
No contest really.
But football is an XI versus XI contest, and Benitez’s
tactical acumen has the knack of totally negating the
influence of some of the finest footballers in Europe.
Indeed, during a one-sided first half, only one team carried
Barca boasted the better possession – 59 per cent to 41 per
cent – but did nothing with it.
Liverpool, however, rattled the woodwork twice, boasted 10
shots to Barcelona’s one, and totally outhustled,
outmanoeuvred and outplayed their illustrious visitors. It
set the scene for another famous Anfield occasion.
And while the morning after a memorable night before is
perhaps not the best time to introduce negatives, the same
arguments still hold true as during Saturday’s, less
celebrated, 1-0 defeat.
Eidur Gudjohnsen’s second half strike means Liverpool have
just lost two home games they largely controlled.
Simple bad luck certainly comes into the equation. But so,
too, does a lack of a potent, world class finisher.
Liverpool peppered the Barcelona goal for 45 minutes last
night, when a goal would have rendered the remainder of the
tie redundant, but they were kept at bay by the woodwork and
A man capable of finishing off the sterling approach play
might have put the seal on a wonderful first-half
But that’s a search for the summer, after this Champions
League campaign has ended.
The men with the deep pockets were inside Anfield to witness
last night’s occasion first hand.
And once the memory of the ear-bashing atmosphere has
subsided, they will start to apply their keen analytical eye
to what is needed to take this resilient side even further.
Or rather, they’ll ask Benitez.
His task in unearthing such a figure is an unenviable one.
Eto’o has for a long time been regarded as Europe’s premier
marksman – and there’s more than a suggestion he’ll be a gun
for hire this summer.
But his impact this season has been less notable than
previous campaigns, while for much of last night he cut a
Possibly Rijkaard’s decision to bizarrely isolate him on the
left flank in the opening 20 minutes (an unsuccessful
attempt to curb Steven Gerrard’s penetrating runs down the
right, maybe?) created a confused mindset from the off.
Even the two-times World player of the Year has looked
mortal in recent months. Ronaldinho was wasteful in the
moment which proved pivotal to last night’s match.
With 41 minutes still remaining he spun cleverly away from
Arbeloa, advanced menacingly on Reina, then clipped a
glaring opportunity against a post.
It was a further 22 minutes before Barcelona finally
chiselled a way past the Reds rearguard – and that was too
little, too late.
A little like Rijkaard’s attempts to undermine Liverpool’s
learnéd Spanish coach.
Rijkaard: If Reds have the luck
they can beat anyone
By Nick Peet - Liverpool Echo
Frank Rijkaard conceded that the intimidation of playing
in front of a packed Anfield played a part in his European
champions crashing out of the Champions League.
The Barcelona boss also admitted that, while he does not
like Liverpool's style, he believes the Reds are capable of
winning the European Cup for a sixth time in May.
Rijkaard saw his side surrender their European crown last
night on away goals, having won the second leg of their last
16 tie at Anfield, thanks to a late Eidur Gudjohnsen goal.
The Dutchman said: "Liverpool produced a great performance.
I do not see it as being progressive. They are very direct
while being mentally strong and motivated.
"Other teams will not like playing them. With luck, they can
Rijkaard once again lost the tactical battle with Rafa
Benitez, and admitted his side were unable to get into the
box to be really dangerous, despite plenty of possession.
But he accepted the loss of Barcelona's European crown with
good grace, saying: "We won this leg, but maybe we were
lucky considering the amount of chances they created in the
"We tried everything possible and I am proud of the spirit
and effort my players put in. They worked hard, but
Liverpool are a difficult team to play against.
"They are strong, direct and are mentally tough. That is the
way it goes. Sometimes it is like that in football, however
hard you try.
"I can only congratulate Liverpool. They are a vigorous side
and for the neutral it must have been a game full of good,
"From Liverpool it was a great performance. Their style is
very difficult to play, but we were not at our best.
"We fought to the very last seconds, but Liverpool were
highly motivated and they defended in such a way to stop us
getting close to their goal.
"Anfield is such a difficult place to play in."
striker to launch title tilt
Liverpool have progressed in the Champions League, but
TEAMtalk's Anthony Bullick feels they need a big-name
striker to challenge domestically.
Steven Gerrard was spot on with his view that Rafael Benitez
"is one of the best managers in the world." One trophy which
continues to stay out of the Spaniard's reach is the
However, that will all change now they have the financial
backing of their new American owners to get that 20
goal-a-season striker they need to finally take the league
title back to Anfield.
With Samuel Eto'o likely heading for the exit at the Nou
Camp following his fall-out with Barcelona, his name has
consistently been linked with a switch to the Merseysiders.
But it is another striker plying his trade in Spain who will
be a better fit to fire Liverpool to Premiership glory. That
man is Valencia's David Villa.
Over the past couple of seasons, the Spanish international
has seen his name linked with moves to Europe's finest. Los
Che's desire to keep hold of Villa have seen the club insert
a mega buy-out clause of £100million into the player's
If Valencia do relent and sell their star player, the sum
received will certainly eclipse the £8million they parted
with to land his services from fellow La Liga outfit Real
Zaragoza - a fee which drew much scepticism.
From unknown to first name on the Spanish team sheet in
three seasons, Villa is now being linked to the biggest
clubs in the world and rightly so.
El Guaje (the kid) hit 38 goals for Sporting de Gijon in
Spain's second tier. A £1.8million move to Real Zaragoza,
who had only just won promotion back to La Liga after a one
year absence, in 2003 represented his first season in
Spain's top flight. His 17 goals helped Zaragoza to a
mid-table finish and a win in the final of the Copa Del Rey
in his first season. Villa scored in the final as Real
Madrid, boasting the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo,
were beaten 3-2 after extra time.
Another season and a further fifteen goals later, Valencia
took the plunge and secured the services of the young
And he repaid them with 25 goals last season, just one
behind top-scorer Samuel Eto'o. Not bad considering Villa
didn't have the likes of Ronaldinho and Deco setting up
chances for him.
It's his pace, deadly finishing and the ability to poach
goals that have seen him linked with a big money move. He is
not a Ruud van Nistelrooy who needs to hope that a chance
drops his way inside the area. Villa can drop deep, pick the
ball up and create something out of nothing. A deadly
combination as Thierry Henry has shown on a regular basis.
Liverpool haven't had a striker break the 20 league goals in
a season barrier since 1995/96 when Robbie Fowler found the
back of the net 28 times. To win the title for the first
time since the 1989/90 campaign, in which John Barnes scored
22 goals, then Liverpool need Villa.
Villa hasn't let the transfer speculation go to his head
once and is the ultimate professional. At all times he has
stated that he is "flattered" by the interest shown in him
and not once demanded a transfer.
With Chelsea, Real Madrid and Juventus all likely to enter
the race for him in the summer, Villa is hot property and
won't come cheap. But with the injection of funds into
Rafa's transfer kitty, the five-time European champions
finally have the financial muscle to compete.
Steven Gerrard hailed Rafael Benitez as "one of the best
managers in the world" as Liverpool reached the Champions
And striker Craig Bellamy, who was in hot water for his
antics at a training camp ahead of the first leg against
Barcelona, believes it was the team spirit many critics felt
he had shattered that carried Liverpool into the last eight.
Liverpool are coming to terms with beating the European
champions, on away goals, despite their 1-0 defeat at
Anfield on Tuesday night.
And Gerrard spelt out the togetherness in the camp and the
trust the players have in Benitez.
Gerrard added: "We all have total respect and confidence in
Rafa Benitez. He has shown he is one of the best managers in
the world, and he shows it with the tactics he used in
"We always trust him to get it right, and he did it again
"It was all about hard work, in both legs. The effort put in
by everyone has been rewarded. We were unlucky not to go in
ahead at half-time in the second leg.
"But Barcelona are so good going forward, they play such
nice football, but we stuck in there and are in the last
"We have got great spirit, grit and determination - people
were throwing bodies about - and that's one of the reasons
"This now gives us great confidence, going through against
the best side in Europe over two legs."
Prior to the first clash with Barca a fortnight ago, it was
Bellamy's alleged brandishing of a golf club in a row with
colleague John Arne Riise that threatened to splinter the
team bonding Benitez had so carefully planned at a
Portuguese training camp.
But Bellamy has salvaged his Liverpool career with a
match-winning display in the Nou Camp, and a hard-running,
selfless performance at Anfield on Wednesday.
Now Bellamy says: "Over two legs usually the best team goes
through and we were the best team. Did we prove people
wrong? It wasn't an issue, not many of the critics get it
"But that is the beauty of the game. You never know what is
going to happen.
"In a great competition like this against a great side like
this we still had a chance. In the first half we hit the bar
twice and really took the game to them.
"The second half was very difficult. They really stepped up
a level and we were hanging on a bit."
He added: "It was an amazing occasion and the biggest night
of my life. It was incredible when you consider the tempo
and everything about the match. I have never experienced a
game at this level.
"It is all about team spirit. When you come to a club like
Liverpool, with what they have won like the European Cup the
season before and then the FA Cup, it is all about spirit.
"There is always a great team spirit anyway. But when you
arrive and mix with these players, you know it is a family
"You come in and you are all together. Against a team like
Barcelona everyone has to contribute and that is what has
"Now I will watch the other games tonight and see who goes
through, see who we get on Friday in the quarter-final draw.
But it is going to be a tough game, that's for sure."
Bellamy admitted the tension almost got to him as he watched
from the bench after being substituted.
He said: "Hopefully we can carry on the momentum as we have
just beaten the European champions. I was a little bit
worried on the bench late on, and didn't know whether to go
inside and watch it on the telly.
"But I can't remember them having a proper chance after the
goal. There were not that many nervous moments, but
Barcelona can cut you open.
"We had to concentrate all the way through but credit to our
defence as well. That was my first start in the Champions
League at Anfield so it was really special."
Rafa Benitez paid tribute to his players and the club's
fans for the performance which put Liverpool into the
Champions League quarter-finals.
On a night of wild celebrations in front of the club's new
owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Liverpool produced a
display of defiance that saw them reach the last eight on
away goals at the expense of reigning champions Barcelona.
Barcelona tried everything but could not recover from a 2-1
first-leg defeat, winning the return 1-0 thanks to an Eidur
Gudjohnsen second-half strike.
"I am really proud of my players, they produced almost a
perfect performance, but the fans too played their part,"
"In those final minutes when we were under so much pressure,
their singing and the noise meant that none of my players
just had to keep running."
Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard once again lost the tactical
battle with Benitez and admitted that his side were unable
to get into the box to be really dangerous, despite plenty
Benitez added: "I do not like to talk of battles with
managers, I was happy with the way I set up my side and
everyone played their part but it is about what players do,
not what managers do.
"We should have been ahead at the break and even in the
second half when they attacked us we were controlling the
game and hitting them on the break.
"We deserved to score, we coped well under that level of
pressure and over two legs we have shown we are better than
a team considered the best in the world.
"Maybe that will give my players confidence for the future.
There will be seven very good sides left in the draw with us
and we will be a match for anyone."
Damage was done in
Nou Camp, says Rijkaard
By Mike Collett - Reuters
Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard praised his team for
their fighting spirit and determination against Liverpool on
Tuesday but said the damage was done in the 21- home defeat
the first leg.
A late Eidur Gudjohnsen goal gave the holders a 1-0 win at
Anfield but Liverpool advanced on the away goals rule.
"Lets not forget that we did actually win tonight's game, a
little luckily maybe but that was not enough we know,"
Rijkaard told a news conference.
"We made our own destiny because of what happened at the Nou
Camp two weeks ago when we lost 2-1."
Liverpool were by the far the more adventurous side on
Tuesday and the Dutch coach recognised that his team had met
"We had a lot of the ball in the first half, but they
defended well and it was difficult for us to create danger
around their box. They are a very good side and I think they
will be more than a match for anyone left in the
competition," he said.
"The fact is we weren't dangerous enough and had put
ourselves in such a difficult position from the first leg,
that always meant it was going to be hard for us tonight.
But I offer them my congratulations.
Reds survive Barca fightback
Liverpool reached the Champions League quarter-finals
after a 1-0 defeat by Barcelona at Anfield saw them win on
away goals after a 2-2 draw.
The hosts' superb 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp proved
decisive for Rafael Benitez, who had selected the exact same
team who reigned in Spain and saw the two away goals depose
the European kings after a 2-2 draw on aggregate.
Benitez's counterpart Frank Rijkaard had fielded a
three-pronged attack of Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Samuel
Eto'o - but it was the Reds who posed the greater threat,
hitting the woodwork twice in the first half.
Eidur Gudjohnsen came off the bench with 20 minutes left and
coolly converted on 75 to set up a tense finish - but the
2005 winners held on.
John Arne Riise had the first chance of the second leg,
skidding a low 20-yard drive inches wide of the upright -
and he was at it again on 11 minutes, rattling the crossbar
with a thumping 20-yard volley.
Ten minutes later, Rafael Marquez glanced a Deco free-kick
narrowly wide - but was flagged offside anyway.
And then Barca keeper Victor Valdes pulled off a stunning
double save on 26 minutes, parrying Craig Bellamy's shot and
saving Dirk Kuyt's follow-up with his knee before also
seeing Carlos Puyol clear Riise's goal-bound header off the
Valdes nearly went from hero to villain minutes later as his
poor clearance went straight to Momo Sissoko, whose
first-time sidefooted lob looped towards the open net but
clipped the top of the bar.
Ronaldinho had been kept subdued by the brilliant Jamie
Carragher, and steered a long-range volley high over the bar
on 36 minutes.
But after the break, the Brazilian produced a flash of magic
to create an opening and thudded a rasping drive against the
upright minutes after testing Pepe Reina with a curling
That chance galvanised the visitors and after Reina saved
Messi's low shot, sub Gudjohnsen grabbed Barca's goal when
he broke into the box, coolly rounded the home keeper and
tapped into an empty net.
That set up a nerve-jangling finish but it was Liverpool who
went closest to adding to the scoreline, with Valdes twice
denying fierce Steven Gerrard strikes.