Liverpool begin to believe
By Alan Hansen - BBC Sport football expert
Liverpool's brilliant defensive display against
Juventus in Turin set up an all-Premiership Champions
League semi-final against Chelsea - and the once
unlikely possibility that my old club could claim the
trophy for a fifth time.
You gauge the health of your domestic league not by how
many teams you get to European semi-finals but by how
many you get to finals.
And the simple fact that the Premiership is guaranteed
one representative in European football's elite club
competition is a sign that all is well at the top end of
the table in England.
If there is a downside in Liverpool's season, it is the
maddening inconsistency that means they can lose
miserably at Manchester City on a Saturday and play like
heroes against Juventus on a Wednesday.
Rafael Benitez will know this must be cured and
outstanding European displays must be integrated into
Premiership performances next season.
But, in the expertise he has shown tactically in Europe
and the brilliant displays of his team, Benitez has not
only given Liverpool fans hope, but massive optimism.
Juventus were incredibly inept in Turin but take nothing
away from Liverpool - and my growing feeling that they
could actually win the Champions League comes from the
way they coped with the two distinct faces of European
football in this quarter-final.
They rolled over the top of Juventus at Anfield, then
defended with great organisation and resilience away
I recall a backs-to-the-wall performance against Bayern
Munich in Germany in the European Cup semi-final in
1981, when we were without key defenders and lost Kenny
Dalglish after seven minutes.
Liverpool's performance, without Steven Gerrard and a
host of others, reminded me of that in Turin.
Chelsea will be favourites for the semi-final, while
AC Milan will be favourites to claim the trophy,
particularly when looking such a magnificent side in
beating a Manchester United team that was flying when
they met in the last 16.
But Liverpool have shown that, on a given day, they can
beat anyone - and that's why I am increasingly coming to
the conclusion that they could win the whole thing.
No-one, myself including, would have given Liverpool a
prayer of doing that, not least when they turned in
abject displays against the likes of Birmingham and
Southampton earlier this season.
But in Europe they are a team transformed and have shown
that they can threaten anyone.
Chelsea may be 30 points ahead of Liverpool in the
Premiership and have three wins under their belt against
them this season but, in a strange way, Benitez can take
heart from those games.
I recall when I played for a dominant Liverpool, Chelsea
had an Indian sign over us in the cup competitions and I
remember coming a cropper on a couple of occasions.
And over two legs of a European semi-final there can be
many twists and turns. Liverpool will be underdogs but
they will have faith in themselves after the way they
dispatched Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus.
Liverpool played badly at Stamford Bridge and lost but
in the narrow 1-0 defeat at Anfield and in the loss in
the Carling Cup final, they more than matched Chelsea
for long periods.
And this will not be like some cagey European affair.
The semi-final will be a typical Premiership
collision, with tackles flying in and no room for the
Chelsea's confidence will be high and they have some
real thoroughbreds in their team, but Liverpool will
know they are three games away from the big prize.
Liverpool's fans have had some terrible lows in recent
times and just to reach the Champions League semi-final
will give them a massive high.
But there may just be a growing feeling inside Anfield,
both from players and supporters, that this unlikely
adventure could go all the way to the final destination
in Istanbul on 25 May.
has reserves of steel
By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
For most of this unlikely Mersey season, the
managerial bragging rights have lain on the blue side of
Threadbare squad, the ability to conjure limited
resources, an unlikely assault on an even more unlikely
prize . . . these are all qualities which have seen
David Moyes lauded as a potential manager of the year.
But now he has a challenger. From just across the park.
Liverpool boasted big men on the biggest of stages last
night, but the architect of an astonishing achievement
in the seething cauldron of the Stadio delle Alpi was
undoubtedly their ice-cool coach.
The Reds' roster of European glory is peppered with
world class names - from Keegan to Souness, Clemence to
Dalglish, Rush, Hansen and Lawrenson.
But this season's incredible Champions League charge has
been achieved effectively on a shoestring.
Look at the players unavailable to Benitez last night.
Gerrard, Hamman and Kewell form three-quarters of a top
class midfield unit, Chris Kirkland has been called
England's future number one, Fernando Morientes is one
of the continent's most respected strikers - all could
not be called upon.
Xabi Alonso and Djibril Cisse were rushed back into
action after long-term injury simply because there was
no-one else available. Antonio Nunez, Djimi Traore and
Igor Biscan were all roundly criticised for their part
in the lowest point of Liverpool's season, the FA Cup
calamity at Burnley. All three were heroic in last
night's highest point.
Sami Hyypia gave a potted version of Benitez's team talk
seconds after the thoroughly deserved goalless draw.
"We used an extra man in the middle because that's where
they are strongest," he said.
Benitez found a simple solution to a testing problem,
ensured his players absorbed the message, then sent them
out to carry out his instructions.
They did so magnificently, with colossal performances
from Jamie Carragher, Hyypia himself and the returning
The foundations of this success were lain during the
opening 30 minutes of the tie at Anfield, when Liverpool
swept Juventus aside with an intensity and an aggression
of performance that was so very British.
It was also encouraging for the future of domestic
The last time Liverpool and Juventus met in European
action, 20 years ago, it was the end of an unparalleled
period of English dominance in Europe.
After the most fallow of periods, the Premiership is now
guaranteed one Cup finalist this season.
Chelsea will crow and point to the hat-trick of
victories they already boast over the Reds this season.
But before they sing too loudly, they should remember
their own Champions League experience last season.
Soundly beaten - three times again - by an
all-conquering Arsenal side, they recovered to shock the
Gunners in their fourth and fifth meetings.
Claudio Ranieri's reward was the sack. If Rafa Benitez
can somehow claw his way past Chelsea, however, he will
be granted the freedom of Liverpool.
Some achievement for a manager mocked by certain
national newspapers earlier in the campaign.
Carragher: 'Beat Chelski and Stevie G will stay'
Jamie Carragher is convinced that Steven Gerrard will
stay at Liverpool if the Reds can beat Chelski and reach
the final of the Champions League.
Gerrard rejected a move to Chelski last summer, but the
Liverpool captain has made plain his discontent at a
perceived lack of progress at Anfield and it was claimed
last week by a certain Premiership manager in Manchester
that the £40m-rated midfielder has already signed a deal
to join the Blues this summer.
However, Liverpool’s unexpected 2-1 aggregate victory
over Juventus has set up a Champions League semi-final
with the Premiership leaders and Carragher is hopeful
that if Pool can reach the final at Chelski’s expense
then Stevie G will stay.
"Why would anyone want to walk away from a club who had
reached a European Cup final? These are good times at
Liverpool at the moment and this result shows the club
are going places,” the defender declared.
"I'm sure Steven will be delighted back home. We're
desperate for him to stay but it's his decision. If we
get to the Champions League final it must have an
Carragher was magnificent on Wednesday night as Pool,
bereft of their injured captain, ground out the required
0-0 draw in Turin to progress.
Chelski have already beaten Liverpool twice in the
Premiership this season as well as in the Carling Cup
final, and the world’s most Scouse Scouser accepts that
Jose Mourinho’s expensively-assembled squad will be
favourites to reach a final against either AC Milan or
"Chelsea will be the favourites and rightly so because
of the money they've spent and the players they've got.
They're the best team in our league but it's cup
football and anything can happen."
"They got the better of us at Stamford Bridge but we
should have had at least a draw or even a win at Anfield
and in the Carling Cup we were 10 minutes away from
beating them," he told the Evening Standard. "We've
never been battered by them. Every game's been tight and
these two will be the same."
The two-legged semi will be played on 27 April and 3
target Chelsea revenge
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez set his sights on
revenge after clinching an all-Premiership Champions
League semi-final with Chelsea.
Benitez's injury-hit side went through after a goalless
draw against Juventus in Turin gave them a 2-1 aggregate
He said: "We have lost three times to Chelsea this
season, but we have also almost won three times in two
league games and in the Carling Cup final.
"We need to learn from those games and take
confidence. I am very proud."
The two clubs meet in the Champions League second
semi-final on Wednesday 27 April, with Chelsea drawn at
home for the first leg.
Benitez added: "I am delighted for everyone, and that
was a result for our supporters."
Xabi Alonso was outstanding for Liverpool in his first
game since 1 January, and Benitez said: "We needed a
player who could keep the ball and give good passes, and
he had a very good game."
And defender Jamie Carragher also wants revenge against
Chelsea, warning: "We'll be desperate to beat them.
"All the games we've played against them have been
very tight so hopefully it will go our way."
Carragher added: "We've had a history of being one of
the top teams in Europe and getting to the semi-finals
of the Champions League is where the club needs to be
every season. We need to get into these type of
"Juventus are a top team and we were playing against
some top players.
"We knew they would have good chances but I think they
had more chances at Anfield, Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed
in the first half and then I don't know how Fabio
Cannavaro's header stayed out, but besides that we kept
them out well.
"You've got to keep it tight. It gives you more belief
to get to half-time at 0-0, it's little stages all the
time, and in the end we got to the final whistle."
Juventus coach Fabio Capello admitted Liverpool were
He said: "Obviously it is a painful defeat, not just for
me but for everyone at the club because getting to the
end of the Champions League is very important to this
"I have to congratulate Rafa, tactically he was clever.
He decided to play very defensively but his team
followed his plans very well.
"They left us very little room to work in, there was
hardly any chances and Liverpool were excellent in the
way they played."
Capello added: "It wasn't true what was said prior to
this game that Liverpool were weaker than our previous
opponents Real Madrid.
"They confirmed they are a very strong team, unbeatable
in the air, they deserved to go through because they
defended the result they achieved in the opening leg and
we did nothing.
"Obviously it is disappointing because to go as far as
possible in the Champions League was the objective for
both me and the club.
"I did all I could, I put out the team that I considered
appropriate but Liverpool defended well. We had no
"I think a draw would have been a fair result in both
games but I have to congratulate Rafael Benitez, because
it's his team that have gone through.
"Had Zlatan Ibrahimovic been able to score in the first
half obviously it would have made it much easier."
Capello praises Liverpool
Channel 4 Sport
Fabio Capello insists the Bianconeri gave everything
they had to reach the Champions’ League semi-finals, but
were outplayed by Liverpool.
“We must admit that Liverpool defended solidly and were
unstoppable in the air. They deserved to qualify,”
conceded the Coach after two poor displays sealed their
Juventus needed to win 1-0 at the Delle Alpi after
losing the first leg 2-1, but played with a low tempo
and rarely tested goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, only hitting
the woodwork with Fabio Cannavaro’s late header.
“We gave everything we had and performed well enough,
hoping to snatch a goal from somewhere, but
unfortunately we were unable to score. Liverpool are a
tough team to face. We knew that when they close up and
go on the counter-attack they are at their best and we
couldn’t find a way through this attentive defence. Sami
Hyypia was particularly marvellous.”
Nobody knows that more than Capello, who was already
eliminated twice by the Anfield outfit during his time
at Roma. He had urged patience, a tactic that worked
against Real Madrid in the last round, but the clock
ticked away all too quickly.
“Liverpool play with one upfront and are constantly
trying to crowd us out. We were able to create more
chances at Anfield precisely because they were willing
to attack, whereas now it wasn’t in their interests to
Aside from tactical considerations, it was a
psychologically limp performance from the players who
barely got out of first gear.
“I don’t feel it right to blame the lads, as it was a
very balanced game and our opponents kept us on our toes
with the threat of the counter-attack,” continued the
Coach. “That’s why they’ve done very well away from home
The Italian Press has already turned on Capello’s side
after a sluggish performance against an opponent they
were expected to eliminate comfortably and the lack of
alternatives in the squad was clear for all to see.
“David Trezeguet is a goal poacher who makes the
difference in the area and would’ve been very valuable
in this match, but he wasn’t available and we had to
deal with that.”
Milan are now the only remaining Serie A representative
in the Champions’ League and will face PSV Eindhoven
after they won a penalty shoot-out with favourites Lyon.
Liverpool go into an all-Premiership semi-final with
Liverpool through to semis
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool sealed an all-Premiership Champions League
semi-final with Chelsea after a superb display.
Rafael Benitez's injury-ravaged side delivered a
performance of discipline and resilience to protect
their 2-1 lead from the first leg at Anfield.
Juventus created few opportunities apart from an early
close-range effort from striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Fabio Cannavaro struck the post late on, while Milan
Baros was off target with Liverpool's best chance.
It was a performance that guaranteed that there will be
a Premiership team in the Champions League final in
Istanbul in May.
Liverpool, as expected, restored Jerzy Dudek in goal
ahead of youngster Scott Carson, with Xabi Alonso back
in midfield for the first time since January in place of
injured captain Steven Gerrard.
And Liverpool's depleted side more than held their own
in a first 45 minutes played in low-key fashion, with
Juventus showing little urgency as they went in search
of the goal that would take them through.
Liverpool's only worrying moment came after 10 minutes
when Zambrotta's cross found Ibrahimovic unmarked only
eight yards out, but he could not keep his effort down
and Dudek was grateful to see it fly over the top.
Benitez's side showed great organisation, catching
Juventus offside on numerous occasions, but the forward
pairing of Baros and Luis Garcia got little joy from the
Garcia escaped once, but Gianluigi Buffon was quickly
out of his goal to beat the Spaniard in a race for the
Juventus needed to put more pressure on Liverpool, and
they made a change at half-time, replacing Ruben Olivera
with Marcello Zalayeta.
Liverpool's first clear chance came after 49 minutes,
when a brilliant ball from Alonso released Baros, but
the Czech striker was wasteful when clean through and
failed to even hit the target.
Benitez brought on Vladimir Smicer after 57 minutes to
replace the ineffective Antonio Nunez.
Dudek had been superbly protected, and it was 63 minutes
before he made his first save, a fine diving stop from
Emerson's header after Mauro Camoranesi's free-kick.
Baros had been disappointing, and he was replaced with
15 minutes left by Djibril Cisse, who completed a
remarkable recovery from the broken leg he sustained at
Blachburn in October.
Juventus came close to breaking the deadlock when
Cannavaro's header struck the post and rebounded to