After The Match 

            


Bayer Leverkusen-Liverpool 1-3 (0-2)      Wed Mar 9.                   CL
Goals: Garcia (26, 32), Baros (66)     Krzynowek (88)
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Warnock, Riise, Hyypia, Carragher, Gerrard, Hamann, Garcia, Baros, Biscan.
Subs: Smicer (Hamann 62), Welsh (Carragher 68),
Nunez (Finnan 71)
Not used: Carson, Le Tallec, Raven, Potter
Yellow: Bierofka
Red: None
Referee: Alain Sars (France)
Attendance: 23,000

                           MATCH-REPORTS & RESULTS 
TEAM STATS
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Shots off target:
Fouls conceded:
Corners:
Yellow:
Red:

 

 

 

HEADLINES
"We are not
afraid of any
teams left."
          Rafael Benitez

 

1103: History shows we can win Champions League
1003: Reds plan Porto-style Euro shock
1003: Baros accepts Benitez advice
1003: Kennedy delighted for Warnock
1003: Future is looking so much brighter
0903: Klaus has no complaints
0903: Rafa raves over Reds win
0903: Garcia lead rampant Reds

MARCH 11
History shows we can win Champions League

By Andy Hunter - Daily Post

Jamie Carragher insists the recent history of the Champions League shows how Liverpool can defy the odds and go all the way in this season's competition.

Despite their comprehensive demolition of Bayer Leverkusen over two legs and the absence of many continental heavyweights from the quarter-final draw, Liverpool are seventh favourites to win a fifth European Cup.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal were all knocked out at the last-16 stage this week to leave Liverpool and Chelsea flying the flag for the Premiership.

Only PSV Eindhoven and Porto, level at 1-1 with Inter Milan ahead of next week's second leg at the San Siro, are rated bigger outsiders than Liverpool to triumph in Istanbul in May.

But Carragher believes any quarter-finalist can win Europe's greatest prize - with the surprise success of Jose Mourinho's Porto last season providing all the inspiration Liverpool need.

Anfield's outstanding centre-half declared: "We are just delighted Liverpool, a great name and a great club, is in the quarterfinals.

"I'm sure we will be considered one of the outsiders in the last eight, and probably rightly so, because there are a lot of teams left in who are winning trophies and titles in their own countries.

"But the best teams don't always win the Champions League - anything can happen. I'd imagine every game will be tight and could go either way. In a oneoff game anything can happen.

"AC Milan and Chelsea will be looked upon as being among the best teams in Europe. We're probably not up there but we want to go as far as we can.

"We're happy to be here and have probably done a lot more than many people thought we would at the start of the season. But we're not just going to give up and take it easy in the next round."

Carragher's confidence is shared throughout the Liverpool camp following their impressive triumph in Germany on Tuesday.

The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes place in Nyon next Friday, when Rafael Benitez's side could land PSV, Chelsea, Lyon, Juventus, AC Milan, Bayern Munich or the winners of Inter Milan and Porto.

And Steve Finnan believes the Champions League offers Liverpool a perfect remedy to the disappointment of their recent Carling Cup final defeat.

"Of course we can do what Porto did, why not?" insisted the fullback. "Nobody expected them to win it but they did. We are scoring goals now and six over two legs is a good return. I'm sure we will test whoever we meet in the next round.

"We have the players and the experience too. We are looking well as a team. We're still learning with every game and I'm sure the manager is still learning about us as well.

"I'm sure he will want to bring in a few players in the summer, and everyone wants this club to go places.

"We're in the last eight and hopefully that can continue in the next round. It would be great to get to the final, and hope-fully we can win it, who knows?

"We were in a final the other week which we lost. That was not a good feeling, and it would be great to put that right now."


MARCH 10
Reds plan Porto-style Euro shock

Sporting Life

Liverpool's heroes returned from a night of triumph in Germany to claim they could shock Europe just like Jose Mourinho's Porto did in winning the Champions League last season.

Few believed the Portuguese and their fast-taking boss could scale the heights of Europe's elite event, but Mourinho masterminded UEFA Cup and Champions League triumphs in successive seasons.

It is not lost on Liverpool's delighted fans that their new boss Rafael Benitez won the UEFA Cup last season with Valencia, and is steadily picking off rivals in this season's Champions League.

There was a quiet confidence among Liverpool's party on their crack-of-dawn return flight to Merseyside after the 6-2 aggregate triumph over Bayer Leverkusen.

It was summed up by Irish full-back Steve Finnan, who said: "Of course we can do what Porto did, why not?

"Nobody expected them to win it but they did. We are now starting to score goals - six goals in two legs against Leverkusen surely shows something about us.

"That has been a tough test so there is no reason why we can't go all the way. We have the experience and the players at this level so hopefully we can do it and surprise people."

Liverpool blazed into a quick two-goal lead with two Luis Garcia strikes to totally devastate the home side's morale and Finnan added: "It was easier than we thought. The first goal was always going to be important and we got it, so from then things were a lot easier than they could have been.

"They seemed to think that was the end of it and they could not get back into the tie. It turned into a comfortable win.

"But the fact that Manchester United and Arsenal have not managed to get to this stage shows just how difficult it is.

"Whoever you play at this level is tough, but we did such a good job in the first leg it gave us a real incentive and a belief that we could finish the job.

"United and Arsenal had difficult ties and couldn't manage it. But we have done it and that has made us feel pretty good.

"Now we have two home games next, against Blackburn and then Everton and they are very important. After having a taste of the Champions League this season the incentive is there for us to make sure we are back in next term and we can still finish fourth."

The bookies reflect the feeling around Europe that Liverpool have gone as far as they can. Chelsea are favourites at 10-3, AC Milan 7-2, Juventus 4-1, Bayern Munich 6-1, Lyon and Inter Milan 8-1, Liverpool 10-1, Eindhoven 20-1 and Porto, already 1-0 down and facing a second leg away to Inter next week, are 80-1 outsiders.

But those odds will only inspire Liverpool further. Luis Garcia added his support to the theory that Liverpool can shock the European super-powers they once rubbed shoulders with as equals.

He said: "We are in the last eight and anything can happen. If Porto can win the Champions League then so can we. In football, many unpredictable things happen every season so why shouldn't we believe we can go all the way?"

Defender Jamie Carragher warmed to the theme, saying: "To beat Leverkusen is a great result. They are a top class opposition and you only have to look at their home record where they scored three goals against Real Madrid and Roma.

"We are in the quarter finals now and anything can happen. There are some good teams left in the Champions League but any team can win it. It is not always the best teams that win a cup competition and we feel we have a chance."

For midfielder Vladimir Smicer it was the chance to gain sweet revenge for his last visit to the Bavarian, where Leverkusen knocked out Liverpool at the quarter final stage three years ago.

Smicer said: "We played well, we should have scored more goals, but it was a great win and a great victory and it was certainly better than three years ago when we lost in the quarter finals in Leverkusen.

"I had some bad memories from that match, it was rough on us because we lost it right at the end when it looked like we were in the semi-finals. I am just glad that we have put that right in some ways and are through to the next round.

"It is really good for us because if you win against big teams then it gives you confidence. If you beat big teams it should be easier to play matches in the league because your confidence is much higher.

"It is a great prestige for us to be in the last eight and I do not mind who we play now, they are all quality teams.

"If you are in the last eight it means you must know something, know what you are doing, and I feel we deserve to be here in the quarter finals."


MARCH 10
Baros accepts Benitez advice

ITV Football

Milan Baros was told to do his talking on the pitch by Rafael Benitez and believes he has gone a long way to answering the criticism from his Liverpool boss.

The Czech striker led a one-man attacking assault on Bayer Leverkusen in the BayArena to set up Liverpool's advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Baros was bitterly upset after being dumped for the Carling Cup final and said as much to anyone who wanted to listen.

Benitez's reaction then was to say he did not mind his players speaking their mind, but he would rather they let their feet do the talking.

And although Baros was far from perfect in Germany - still infuriating his team-mates by failing to look up and pick out a pass - he did run the Bayer defence ragged and afterwards believed he had put his season back on course.

Baros scored the third Liverpool goal in a 3-1 victory and could have had several more as well as setting up colleagues but he had started his rehabilitation with his Anfield boss.

He said after the 6-2 aggregate victory: "I hadn't scored for a long time after my injury, but now I've done that and hopefully from now on I will score a few more goals and keep my place in the team.

"It has not been easy and my form was not always good, but I would like to think that things have now changed for me. I am certainly happy with the way it went for me, but the most important thing for us is the result."


MARCH 10
Kennedy delighted for Warnock

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

For two times European Cup winner Alan Kennedy the performance of Stephen Warnock in Leverkusen was particularly sweet as he recommended the player to Liverpool.

Kennedy admires Warnock as a left back and says he shows great commitment, passion and desire for the team.

Kennedy told Liverpoolfc.tv: "I remember Stephen being at one of my soccer schools and he really stood out as being a brilliant prospect. I got on the phone to Steve Heighway and Roy Evans and said you have got to take a look at this boy.

"I thought he was fantastic against Leverkusen. I really like him as a left back. He has a great left foot and can pass the ball and get forward. The tackle he made near the end was just brilliant and Rafa will like that seeing a player never giving up and showing great commitment.

"I hope Stephen can push on now and get a good run of games because he deserves to."

On the Reds superb display in Leverkusen Kennedy said: "It was a wonderful performance from Liverpool and I make no apologies for using the word wonderful. Right from the start they took the game to Leverkusen and it was so good to see the full backs getting forward all the time and pushing on.

"We should have had a penalty when Milan Baros was brought down but credit to the players who never let their heads drop and got their rewards. I was delighted for Baros to score as he deserved a goal. I thought Luis Garcia was absolutely tremendous and he is brilliant in Europe. I just hope he can get some consistency in the Premiership because he could be a really good player for Liverpool.

"At times last night it was like watching the old Liverpool and the way we used to play in the European Cup. Liverpool are in the last eight because we deserve to be and who knows what can happen.

"I am delighted for the manager and I thought it was absolutely brilliant to see him in the bar with the Liverpool fans the night before the game."


MARCH 10
Future is looking so much brighter

Comment by Ian Doyle - Daily Post

Whatever out-come Rafael Benitez could have predicted for Liverpool's visit to Leverkusen, not even the wildest of fantasies would have envisaged last night's procession into the last eight of the Champions League.

The Liverpool manager had proclaimed before the match that he'd gazed into his crystal ball and seen Steven Gerrard netting on German soil.

But it was Spanish schemer Luis Garcia who instead helped the Anfield side on their way to a dream start and comprehensively banish memories of their Bayer beating the last time they ventured to those parts in 2002.

Credit for the win must be shared between Benitez and his players.

The manager's tactics were spot on - again pushing Gerrard into an advanced midfield role behind sole striker Milan Baros - and his charges responded with an astute, committed display light years from the sparkless fare served up at Newcastle five days earlier.

How different to three years ago, when the BayArena was host to the beginning of the end of Gerard Houllier's reign at Anfield.

It's easily Benitez's finest result so far at the club and will have a galvanising effect on Liverpool's attempts to ensure they remain in the competition next season.

This was a performance akin to the Liverpool of old in Europe, silencing the crowd early on, imposing themselves on the game and never losing their cool or sight of their objective.

And while Manchester United and Arsenal lick their wounds, the Anfield side join Chelsea in the last eight of Europe's finest. Not bad for a team regarded by some pundits as their poorest since the heady days when they ruled the Continent in the 70s and 80s.

It was Gerrard who - admit-tedly with some merit - unwisely stated it was unlikely a fifth European Cup would be proudly gleaming in the Anfield trophy come May, prompting Benitez to state pre-match that progress last night would prove Liverpool are on the verge of becoming a major European force again.

No-one will be getting carried away by this despatching of an injury-ravaged and ultimately demoralised Leverkusen outfit, but after such a turbulent campaign Liverpool followers could be forgiven for allowing themselves to believe in the unbelievable.

Injuries, of course, have also been the great bugbear of Benitez's first year at Anfield and have contributed to the inconsistency which has hampered Premiership progress.

And given the efficiency and professionalism which oozed throughout both ties against Leverkusen, it will have further infuriated fans who have witnessed the ridiculousness of Southampton and Birmingham that sits uneasily alongside the sublimity of last night.

After earlier victories in Graz and La Coruna in the competitions, if Liverpool could take this kind of away form on their domestic travels the pressure on Benitez would ease considerably.

Yellow is the colour of the coward, but in their striking away strip last night there were Liverpool heroes aplenty.

Gerrard's role gave him more leeway to create havoc among the Leverkusen defence, and with Igor Biscan and Dietmar Hamann providing smothering cover behind, the captain was the brightest he has been for some time.

Ahead of him, Milan Baros posted a welcome reminder of his talents after a lengthy spell in the doldrums that plumbed new depths on Saturday. Denied a clear penalty in the 11th minute, the Czech forward's application and improved attitude paid dividends, and although his decisionmaking at times betrayed a shortfall in confidence, he deserved his second-half goal for his hard work alone.

Elsewhere, Garcia was effervescent and carried on from his fine showing in the first leg, expertly clipping home the opener after 28 minutes. The Spaniard has come in for stick after some wayward performances but it was on the strength of displays like last night that Benitez brought him to the club. More of the same please, Luis.

Stephen Warnock repaid his manager's faith in him with a dis-play at full-back as composed as his fellow defenders.

So comfortable were his side, Benitez saw fit to tempt fate by replacing Hamann with Vladimir Smicer almost to the same minute his predecessor made a similar switch with such devastating consequences in 2002. A touch mischievous, perhaps?

The late concession to Jacek Krzynowek will have irked a Liverpool defence unaccustomed to clean sheets on their travels, but otherwise Jerzy Dudek was largely untroubled by a Leverkusen side who were going through the motions once Garcia had forced home his second by diverting Biscan's header on 32 minutes.

Between now and the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, Liverpool have three home Premiership games - against Blackburn Rovers, Everton and Bolton Wanderers - in which a hat-trick of victories would haul them to within touching distance of their neighbours in fourth place.

For now, however, Liverpool's season continues to boast the most welcome of distractions.


MARCH 9
Klaus has no complaints

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Klaus Augenthaler had few complaints about Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on Wednesday night.

Despite trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Bayer had high hopes of making the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League, but Liverpool stunned them with a 3-1 win in Germany.

"With a 3-1, loss, we have few arguments," said Augenthaler.

"However we had to replace some injured people for the match.

"Just in a phase when we were getting into the game, we took a big blow with their goals.

"We had planned so much, but then a certain uncertainty made itself apparent.

"We thought we would have had only one chance, and that was if we had scored the first goal."


MARCH 9
Rafa raves over Reds win

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was delighted with his side's impressive defeat of Bayer Leverkusen.

The Reds cruised into the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League courtesy of a 3-1 win in Germany making a 6-2 aggregate scoreline.

Luis Garcia grabbed two while Milan Baros wrapped up the tie with a third, and Benitez was delighted with the team's display.

"I'm very proud because we have played a very good first half and after that we played with great control and made it very difficult for them," said Benitez.

"At the end we took off players with yellow cards like Hamann and Carra so it was a good night.

"We did a good job as a team we worked hard and stayed compact.

"Garcia is a skilful player who can do many things - he can score great goals and play some great passes but the team all played well today.

"Milan had the support of Gerrard and sometimes Riise and Luis but he had to work very hard because we have only a few forwards and he deserved his goal for his hard work."

Benitez firmly believes that his side can go a long way in the Champions League this term, but is not getting carried away before the draw for the last eight is made next week.

"We will see who we get in the next game - we just take one game at a time, and in this case one leg at a time.

"We are not afraid of any teams left."

Skipper Steven Gerrard was delighted with what he labelled as Liverpool's best away display for some time - and said their game plan was always to come out fighting.

"It was good performance," said Gerrard. "I think we surprised some people who thought we would sit back and look for a 0-0 but we knew we could hit these on the counter attack - we've seen the tapes and we knew we could do it.

"That's the best we've played away from home for a while.

"We never came here for no 0-0 draw because we came to win - and credit to the lads we played really well.

"We're not happy with the way we've played on the road but hopefully we can now take some of that form into the Premiership."


MARCH 9
Garcia lead rampant Reds

By Paul Highan - Sky Sports

Liverpool strolled into the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League with a devastating away performance in Bayer Leverkusen, dispatching the Germans 6-2 on aggregate.

Rafa Benitez took his side to Germany with a 3-1 advantage, but any worries of Bayer's away goal a fortnight ago were soon banished as Liverpool produced a dominating European away day to match anything of their glory days of the past.

Luis Garcia inspired the victory with two superbly taken close range efforts in four first half minutes that had the tie wrapped up at 2-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.

Milan Baros grabbed a deserved third goal to make it 6-1 on aggregate and book Liverpool's place in the last eight of the competition in impressive fashion, despite a late consolation from Jacek Krzynowek making it 6-2.

Baros sprung the offside trap inside five minutes but he was unaware of the space behind him and turned into danger before producing a weak shot that was easily saved by Hans Jorg Butt.

With a two-goal deficit to make up everyone was expecting a German onslaught but it was the visitors who started the better, carrying out their manager's promise to go in search of a vital away goal.

Their chance looked to have come on 12 minutes when an industrious Milan Baros run was ended by a blatant Jan-Ingwer Callasen-Bracker foul, but referee Alain Sars somehow missed the decision.

Landon Donovan and Dimitar Berbatov then missed good chances from the edge of the box as Liverpool started to look a touch nervy in defence.

In attack, however, the Merseysiders looked threatening and the hard-working Baros was making life a misery for the Bayer back-line, with his 23rd-minute run and cut-back just evading Steven Gerrard.

The Liverpool skipper nearly put his side ahead on 27 minutes when he fired in a screamer from 25 yards that Butt did superbly well to turn round the post.

Bayer's reprieve was only temporary, however, and Liverpool went ahead on the night from Gerrard's cross after a corner, with diminutive Spaniard Garcia nipping in ahead of the defence to apply and deft flick past Butt.

Things got worse for Klaus Augenthaler's side a minute later when top striker Berbatov had to come off with some sort of injury, to be replaced by Andrei Voronin.

Despite a 4-1 aggregate lead, Liverpool continued their attack on the German goal and they soon stunned the hosts with a second strike after 32 minutes.

Gerrard's corner was met by Igor Biscan's powerful header, and again Garcia was on hand with another exquisite touch to turn the ball past Butt for a 5-1 aggregate lead.

Liverpool's small but vociferous band of supports were going wild in the corner of the BayArena with their side now well in command of the tie.

Another flowing move from Liverpool early in the second half nearly provided a third goal, as Gerrard's cross was deflected into the path of the hat-trick chasing Garcia, but his instant hit went just wide.

Liverpool were guilty of just dropping the tempo and allowing Bayer to get a few good sights of goal, with Franca and Voronin both wasting good chances.

Jerzy Dudek was then called into action for the first time after an hour when he beat Franca's well hit shot away at his ear post.

Baros finally grabbed the goal his endless endeavour had deserved, when he latched on to a deflection before chesting down and dispatching past Butt with ease to put Liverpool through to the quarter finals.

Krzynowek grabbed a late goal for Bayer, but it could not take the gloss of a fine 3-0 win on the night for Liverpool, with a superb 6-2 aggregate scoreline.


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Thor Zakariassen