By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
John Arne Riise today hailed the unique match-winning
skills of 'lucky omen' Luis Garcia, as Liverpool took a
major step towards next season's Champions League.
Liverpool have never lost any of the 20 games in which
Garcia has scored for the club, and few of his previous
strikes were as timely as the one which saw off Arsenal with
two minutes to spare.
The Reds have now opened up a 10 point lead over the Gunners
as Rafa Benitez eyes his first ambition of a top four place.
Garcia's style isn't always appreciated, but Riise says last
night's contribution underlined why the Spaniard is such a
key member of the squad.
"We know when the subs come on they've got to be ready to
show something. Luis has been away with injury but he's come
on and done it for us," said Riise.
"I think it was important for Luis to get a goal to show
he's back. He's someone who can miss chances but then pop up
with the important goal. That's the type of player he is.
"He is an intelligent player who knows where he needs to be
and knows how to score goals. That's the kind of player
every team needs.
"He tries things. When it doesn't work, maybe people aren't
happy about it, but that's his game.
"Obviously we're really happy because we deserved to win the
game. We dominated the first half and we should have had
"It just goes to prove if you keep going for 90 minutes the
goal can come at the end. When it does come late and you
win, it's even better."
The Reds are now preparing for the next tough assignment of
a testing fortnight as Manchester United visit in the FA
Riise insists revenge isn't on the players' minds after
their last minute Premiership defeat at Old Trafford.
"It's not payback, but we didn't deserve to lose over there
and now we're looking forward to playing them at our place,"
"We want to go to the final, so to do that we'll have to
"With two wins out of two, two clean sheets and some
excellent football against an Arsenal team we outplayed, I
think we're definitely back in business."
apologises to fans
By Adam Marshall - Sky Sports
Robbie Fowler has apologised for keeping the Liverpool
fans waiting to celebrate his first goal since his return to
The former England striker was denied by a smart stop from
Jens Lehmann during the 1-0 victory against Arsenal on
Tuesday night and cannot wait to repay The Kop's adulation
with a goal.
Even though he is still bidding to get to full fitness,
Fowler is setting himself some exacting standards.
"It's been well documented [about my fitness], I've said it
a few times," he told Sky Sports. "I've not played much this
season but I'm happy to be playing again.
"Obviously I'm just sorry I'm not scoring goals but I know,
a few times, if the team is winning and I don't score, I'm
happy with that.
"He [Lehmann] was fantastic, to be honest. I think
everything we threw at him, he was able to put out.
"I thought he was brilliant, to be honest.
"Didi [Dietmar Hamann] has hit a great shot and he's managed
to save it but Luis [Garcia] has followed it up, which we do
get told to do."
Reds captain Steven Gerrard was a relieved man after
missing a penalty in the first half.
"I definitely was [thinking it was going to be one of those
days] after missing the penalty," he said afterwards. "I'll
have to give Luis a kiss when I get in there!
"We'll have to wait and see [whether Liverpool finish above
"If we keep playing the way we're playing, nicking results
like that, then I don't think they'll catch us.
"But we'll keep fighting until the end and take each game as
Wenger suffers travel sickness
Arsene Wenger accepts faltering Arsenal are facing a
desperate battle to finish in the top four.
After a crucial 1-0 defeat at Liverpool they are now 10
points behind the third-placed Merseysiders and four points
adrift of Spurs in fourth.
Wenger said: "Automatic qualification in the top two,
certainly not, but qualification is still possible. But it
will be hard. The Champions League is important, the reality
is there so we just have to fight harder next time."
It is a worrying position for the Arsenal chief who now must
raise the spirits of his side for next week's Champions
League clash with Real Madrid.
And Wenger blamed Arsenal's inability to claim points from
away games after the fourth time in recent weeks they lost
1-0 on the road.
Defeats by West Ham, Everton and now Liverpool also mean
Arsenal have lost three of their last five games.
"What can I say? We have lost another away game 1-0 and it
is happening too often," added Wenger.
"We need to recover now and find the right balance to go to
Spain for the Champions League, we must find a way to put
Real Madrid under pressure."
We deserved the win
By Paul Walker - PA Sport
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez said his side thoroughly
deserved their 1-0 Premiership win over Arsenal at Anfield.
Jens Lehmann kept the Reds at bay for 86 minutes with a
string of stunning saves - including a penalty stop from
But then Luis Garcia struck late on to finally settle the
Benitez said afterwards: "We deserved to win with the number
of chances that we created, even if it was unbelievable to
see the saves that Lehmann made.
"It is too soon to write off Arsenal, they still have a lot
of games left. If we finish in the top two fantastic, if we
don't we at least have shown a lot of fight trying to make
"We showed we wanted this and worked hard for it. If you
play well and don't win then you start having doubts, but at
the moment we have great confidence in what we are doing."
The turning point in a tense, critical game was the
introduction of substitutes Dietmar Hamann, Djibril Cisse
and Garcia in the closing stages.
Gerrard had missed a first half penalty and Liverpool had
toiled to make the most of their possession and overall
Said Benitez: "It was a very difficult match, when it is
level you are always worried about a breakaway. But we were
able to bring on new players and they made a difference.
"Luis Garcia is a player with an instinct for goals, I told
him to play on the right and attack. And the change in the
game arrived when these three were brought in."
late Liverpool winner
BBC Sport Online
Substitute Luis Garcia's late goal gave Liverpool a
narrow win over Arsenal.
Before Garcia's 86th minute strike, Arsenal goalkeeper Jens
Lehmann had single-handedly kept Liverpool at bay.
The Arsenal keeper saved Steven Gerrard's first-half penalty
having previously brilliantly turned away a wayward header
from Philippe Senderos.
But Lehmann was only able to get one hand to a raking shot
from Dietmar Hamann and Garcia rushed in to thump the ball
past the German goalkeeper.
The win moved Liverpool 10 points clear of fifth-placed
Arsenal, who trail rivals Spurs by four points.
Prior to Tuesday Arsenal had lost six times in the league
away from Highbury and they featured infrequently as an
It took Arsenal 53 minutes before they forced Lehmann's
counterpart Jerzy Dudek to make a save, the Pole beating
away a Thierry Henry save.
That Arsenal looked as though they might escape from Anfield
with a point was largely due to a combination of Lehmann's
heroics and some more anxious Liverpool finishing, with
Fernando Morientes missing good chances in each half.
The Spaniard first missed his kick from a Harry Kewell cross
and might have done better late on when he got to a Gerrard
cross, only to be put off by the close attentions of Mathieu
If Lehmann turned in a man-of-the-match performance,
Senderos had a game he will want to forget on his 21st
The Swiss international gave his side some anxious moments
with a couple of miscued headers in the first half.
Senderos' first failed clearance allowed Kewell to hit a
volley that went wide.
The Swiss defender then almost headed a Gerrard cross into
his own net but Lehmann spared Senderos' blushes by pawing
the ball away just as it looked as if it was going to loop
into the net.
Just past the half-hour Morientes won a rather fortunate
penalty for Liverpool when he went down under a challenge
from Emmanuel Eboue.
But Lehmann again came to his side's rescue, moving quickly
to his right to push away Gerrard's penalty.
Starved of possession Arsenal's best chances in that first
half came in the opening quarter of an hour.
Kolo Toure went close with a header from a Cesc Fabregas
free-kick, while Fredrik Ljungberg dragged a shot wide from
a promising position.
Lehmann began the second half in an equally inspired form,
foiling Robbie Fowler, after the Liverpool striker's
first-time touch left Senderos flat-footed.
Just past the hour Liverpool went close with a Morientes
header and Sami Hyypia's clever flick that Ljungberg, who
was stationed at the post, cleared off the line.
Kewell was the next Liverpool player to be denied by Lehmann
as the German pushed away the Australian's bicycle kick.
Garcia had come on 84 minutes and three minutes later he was
the first to react as Lehmann was unable to hold Hamann's
Even then Lehmann got his body in the way the Spaniard's
strike, but it was hit with such velocity that it crossed