surprised by Benitez's tinkering
By Theo Ruizenaar - Reuters
PSV Eindhoven coach Ronald Koeman said he was surprised
by Liverpool's starting line-up for their Champions League
Group C opener on Tuesday.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez made drastic changes to the
side that was beaten 3-0 by Everton in the Mersey derby on
Saturday, including leaving England midfielder Steven
Gerrard and striker Peter Crouch on the bench.
"We knew that Benitez makes changes but starting without
Crouch, (Sami) Hyypia and Gerrard, was an enormous surprise
for us," Koeman told reporters after the 0-0 stalemate.
PSV are still adjusting from the sale of target man Jan
Vennegoor of Hesselink to Celtic in the transfer window and
Koeman said he was pleased with the performance.
"I had the feeling my team is still improving. We had
several changes last week, while you have to play super to
beat Liverpool," he said. "We played with common sense and
didn't take too many risks."
Hesselink's replacement, Patrick Kluivert, played no part in
the game against the 2005 champions despite the former Dutch
international warming up for more then 30 minutes.
"This was a match of the highest level and we knew that
Patrick (Kluivert) is not completely ready," added Koeman.
"I would have used him if we fell behind or if one my
strikers would be injured, but now he will be used on
As the other match in the group between Girondins Bordeaux
and Galatasaray also ended goalless, the group is still wide
open. PSV face Bordeaux next when they are likely to start
with Phillip Cocu and Kluivert.
"Beforehand we knew that there are no big differences in
this group and the results prove that," said Koeman.
"But if you want to qualify you have to get some points away
from home, so now we have to beat Galatasaray or Bordeaux in
their own stadium."
Benitez sticks with his best line-up
By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
Rafa Benitez was determined his side would get a point
against PSV last night - and it was mission accomplished.
The Liverpool boss picked a side that had a solid back four,
a midfield prepared to work hard and cut down space and two
up front in Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt with pace and the
ability to threaten.
So I was reasonably pleased with what we achieved. But I was
extremely disappointed over the derby defeat.
Benitez got it right last night, but simply picked the wrong
team against Everton on Saturday.
We needed to exploit the pace of Bellamy and Kuyt at
Goodison, but by putting Peter Crouch and Robbie Fowler up
front we weren't able to take the game to them. We helped
them by not having someone to have a go at them, like Andy
Last night, thank goodness, PSV did not have anyone with his
sort of pace to worry us, so generally our defence did not
have too many concerns.
I thought Bellamy and Kuyt played very well against the
Dutch and, while Jermaine Pennant and Fabio Aurelio worked
hard, perhaps Benitez could have introduced Xabi Alonso,
Steven Gerrard and Mark Gonzalez a little earlier to try to
snatch the points.
PSV were afraid of the pace we had up front. The Reds played
quite well and looked comfortable - such a contrast to the
derby when we played so badly. The Blues just took the game
by the scruff of the neck and we had little answer.
But Benitez's experience in Europe ensured he and his team
got it right. I'm happy with a point, although we could have
nicked a winner with Gerrard's fine volley that hit the
inside of the post.
If there was one criticism on selection it was that we did
not have enough creativity in mid-field. Kuyt was creating
things himself when he dropped back to pick up the ball.
Pennant had a lousy second half, often losing possession,
while Bolo Zenden did not get into the game too much.
We still need, too, someone to start scoring regularly for
us. It's certainly not happening at the moment. With the
emphasis on defence it meant that neither Steve Finnan nor
Steve Warnock could get forward on the overlap.
sheet peps up Pepe
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Pepe Reina insists his confidence never wavered after his
Goodison hell, as he recovered to keep a morale boosting
clean sheet in Holland last night.
The Liverpool keeper was well protected during the dour 0-0
draw with PSV Eindhoven.
But after a traumatic weekend, Reina recognised the
importance of securing the club's first shut-out of the
"It meant a lot to us last night," said the Spanish
international. "We defended well and I think we may even
have deserved a victory in the end.
"We played a lot better than on Saturday. We'd have
preferred to win, but a point is enough.
"It was important not just for me to keep a clean sheet, but
the whole team. It's better news for us.
"As a goalkeeper, I know I always have to walk the line
between making a mistake and making a save.
"I made a mistake on Saturday, but I always try to forget
about it quickly.
"That's harder after a derby when there are people to remind
you what happened. I know it was a mistake in an important
game, but you just have to keep on going.
"I have experience, and I have made mistakes before and
recovered. I have belief in myself."
Liverpool now prepare for a trip to Stamford Bridge, well
aware they can't afford to slip any further behind the early
"When you get points against the top teams, you know it can
make a big difference at the end of the season, because
it'snot only three points for you, but three less for them,"
"We know we will have to defend as well as last night. I
don't know if it's a good or bad time for us to be playing
them, but we know in these kinds of games,it'svital we make
no more mistakes."
Confidence has been restored
By Mark Platt - LFC Official Website
Steve Finnan believes Liverpool's battered confidence has
been restored following the creditable Champions League draw
in Holland on Tuesday night.
The Reds went into the clash with PSV Eindhoven reeling from
their heaviest derby defeat since the sixties but, with a
trip to Stamford Bridge looming on Sunday, Finnan insists
that catastrophic result is now out of their system.
“It was good to get that weekend derby defeat our system and
I think confidence has now been restored, which is important
seeing as we’ve got a big game at Chelsea to come next,”
“It had been a difficult few days for us after losing the
derby but a lot of the criticism after Saturday was a bit
over the top. We don’t just turn into a bad side overnight
and I think we proved that against a very strong PSV side.
“It was probably a fair result in the end but I think we
played quite well and could have won it with a bit more luck
in front of goal.
“They came at us more in the second half and had a lot of
the ball but overall I don’t think there could have been too
many complaints if Stevie’s shot had gone in at the end.
“Hopefully, we can now kick on in the Premiership and
although we haven’t won at Stamford Bridge for a few years
we don’t fear going there.
“There’ll obviously be a lot of hype surrounding the game
because we’ve met in so many high profile encounters in
recent seasons but this one can’t be labelled a
make-or-break game for our league season. It’s far too early
Benitez sticking with rotation
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez says he will continue to rotate his squad to
ensure his players are at 100 percent with the number of
crucial games coming thick and fast for Liverpool.
The Reds suffered derby defeat at Everton on Saturday and
then travelled to Holland to face PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA
Champions League just three days later.
With a trip to Premiership champions Chelsea coming up on
Sunday, Benitez made six changes from the side at Goodison
for the game in Eindhoven.
Xabi Alonso, Peter Crouch, Sami Hyypia and skipper Steven
Gerrard were all left on the bench for the 0-0 draw with
PSV, and Benitez says he will continue to stick to his
"Steven was on the bench as were several other senior
players, Xabi Alonso, Peter Crouch, Sami Hyypia, but people
only mention Gerrard," said Benitez.
"We must accept that nobody can play at 100% for every
match, it was a very difficult game against Everton and you
can see that the players who were involved for all that game
were on the bench.
"If you are not 100% fit and ready then you will be rested
like that. It will happen to different players."
Liverpool were a lot more solid against PSV as they secured
a first clean sheet of the season, and Gerrard could have
grabbed the win as he struck a post with a fine volley after
coming off the bench.
"He came on at the right time," added Benitez.
"We had needed to cover and work to stop their penetrating
passes and that is why Momo Sissoko started.
"He has fantastic stamina, better than Alonso or Gerrard can
"Now we have more options and we can use players in this
"We were intent on a clean sheet after that happened on
Saturday, and we defended well and created enough chances to
have won the match."
play out PSV stalemate
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
A much-changed Liverpool side produced a solid if
unspectacular performance in a goalless draw at PSV
Eindhoven in their opening UEFA Champions League group
Rafa Benitez rung the changes after their derby defeat at
the weekend, with Sami Hyypia, Xabi Alonso and even skipper
Steven Gerrard starting on the bench.
An organised and disciplined Liverpool side were relatively
comfortable throughout the game, apart from Aruna Kone's
early strike against the bar.
Dirk Kuyt starred with a tireless performance up front and
at times his partnership with Craig Bellamy showed signs of
blossoming, while substitute Gerrard nearly won it for The
Reds when he volleyed against the post late on.
Liverpool started competently enough but PSV had the first
chance inside ten minutes after Momo Sissoko lost the ball
just inside the opposition's half and Aruna Kone went on a
60-yard run before unleashing a vicious left-footer that
rattled Pepe Reina's crossbar.
Fabio Aurelio dragged his shot wide of the far post after a
sweeping Liverpool move saw him arrive at pace on the
left-hand side of the box.
Reina that had a confidence-boosting save to make as Ibrahim
Afellay lashed a powerful drive towards goal that the
Spaniard had to move quickly to keep out.
Liverpool began to grow into the game and Bolo Zenden fizzed
a shot a foot wide of the post before Craig Bellamy wriggled
inside the box before his left-foot shot went wide.
Bellamy and Kuyt's partnership was starting to look
promising up front with only the final ball and Bellamy's
reluctance to shoot at times spoiling the end product.
Former Liverpool man Jan Kromkamp helped his old club out
when he lost the ball allowing a swift counter attack that
got Dirk Kuyt in the clear, only for Carlos Salcido to make
up a huge amount of ground to get in a last-ditch block on
Jermaine Pennant's first real attacking involvement in the
game came ten minutes into the second half when he forced
Gomes into a low save after cutting in from the left and
firing in a low shot.
PSV tried to raise the tempo around the hour mark though and
Edison Mendez slipped Kone in behind the Liverpool defence
but he tried to shoot with his right foot after coming from
the left and his weak effort was easily saved by Reina.
Mendez blasted a superb 30-yarder that flew just wide of the
diving Reina moments later, while the impressive Kuyt
responded with a bullish turn fearsome strike that was even
closer to the post with Gomes beaten.
Gerrard eventually entered the fray with 20 minutes left but
PSV had the next chance as Mendez was allowed to forage
forward before curling one just over the bar.
Steve Finnan had to get a desperate foot-in on Kone as he
nearly wriggled clean through from the edge of the box, but
PSV were hardly throwing everything in search of the
Liverpool nearly stole it two minutes from time when Gerrard
swivelled to steer an instinctive volley goalwards and Gomes
was beaten all ends up before the inside of the post rescued
him, and PSV.
The hosts did not try and pile forward for the win and the
game ended in a scoreless draw which both sides seemed happy