After The Match 


Liverpool-Blackburn 0-0             Wed Mar 16.              Premier League   
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Pellegrino, Carragher, Warnock, Hamann, Gerrard, Garcia, Smicer, Baros, Morientes
Subs: Riise (Smicer 46), Nunez (Baros 70), Biscan (Warnock 82)
Not used: Carson, Hyypia
Yellow: Gerrard (29)                   Flitcroft (32)
Red: None
Referee: Barry Knight
Attendance: 37,765

                           MATCH-REPORTS & RESULTS 
Shots on target: 2-2
Shots off target: 5-3
Fouls conceded: 12-13
Corners: 11-3
Yellow: 1-1




"We know how
important the derby
is for us now.
We have to win."
         Rafael Benitez
1702: Benitez: We have to win on Sunday now
1703: Hughes' glee at Rover's rearguard
1603: Liverpool held by Rovers


Benitez: We have to win on Sunday now

By Andy Hunter - Daily Post

Rafael Benitez admitted Sunday's Merseyside derby has become a "must-win" encounter for Liverpool after being held to a frustrating draw by Blackburn Rovers last night.

Liverpool's inconsistency again kept their pursuit of fourth place in check as they failed to build on last week's Champions League victory over Bayer Leverkusen and test Brad Friedel in the Blackburn goal. The result leaves Liverpool seven points adrift of Everton in the race for the lucrative final place into Europe's elite competition.

And manager Benitez conceded his team need to beat their Merseyside rivals at Anfield on Sunday to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for next season's competition through the Premiership.

"It is very frustrating," said Benitez. "We knew these three points would have been very important for our season and though we have one point we have not reduced the gap by very much.

"We knew Sunday's game against Everton was going to be important. Now it is even more important.

"I am always confident. We can only try our best and we will keep working hard to get fourth place. But we know we must play better than this or have a bit of luck if we are going to win games. We know how important the derby is for us now. We have to win."

Neither side produced a meaningful chance all night as Mark Hughes's side thwarted Liverpool's attempts to move to within five points of Everton,

Benitez said: "Blackburn worked very hard as a team tonight in defence and we found it very difficult to find the space to shoot or cross properly.

"Their defence worked very hard and played very tight. They tried to hit us on the counter attack and though we didn't allow them many of those we didn't threaten enough ourselves. It was very frustrating.

"We tried to keep the ball, to play with wingers and to play between the lines but Blackburn worked very hard in defence and we didn't find the space to hurt them.

"We know Everton might come here and play the same way as Blackburn and we must play better on Sunday. Sometimes it just takes the final pass to win a game like this but we made too many mistakes with our final pass tonight."

He added: "It was a different situation against Leverkusen. Bayer needed to win and to go forward, Blackburn were waiting for opportunities to catch us on the counterattack.

"They have found a system that suits them and they are doing well at the moment."

Hughes' glee at Rover's rearguard

Sporting Life

Mark Hughes hailed the defensive rock that left Liverpool struggling to reach the Champions League.

The Blackburn boss saw new skipper Andy Todd and New Zealand hardman Ryan Nelsen withstand everything Liverpool could throw at them in a 0-0 draw at Anfield.

It means Liverpool have only closed the gap on fourth-placed Everton to seven points, and it makes Sunday's 201st Mersey derby between the pair even more crucial.

But Hughes was only concerned about the defiant display from his side that sees them now eight points away from the drop zone.

Todd and Nelsen were outstanding in the centre of defence, and Hughes said: "Andy Todd was man of the match but there was a few candidates in my team.

"The lads at the back snuffed out everything Liverpool threw at us, a good performance overall that we are delighted with.

"The thinking behind making Todd captain was that his performances merited it and since he has been captain nothing I have seen has changed my mind, he has been outstanding.

"I am not surprised either about Nelsen, I was fortunate to pick him up for nothing and after the first half-an-hour of his first training session I knew that we had a great player. He has mental strength in abundance and has a winning mentality.

"He has added so much to the team and for a free transfer he is fantastic."

Liverpool held by Rovers

BBC Sport Online

A lacklustre Liverpool were held to a draw by Blackburn as their hopes of catching Everton for a place in the Champions League suffered a blow.

Liverpool were continually stifled and lacked the creativity to dissect an uncompromising visitors defence.

Reds striker Milan Baros had a rare chance only to side-foot high.

Jamie Carragher felt Liverpool should have had a penalty for a Ryan Nelsen nudge but it would have been harsh on a resurgent Blackburn.

The emphasis was on Liverpool to break down a disciplined Blackburn but, despite dominating possession, the Reds struggled in the final third against a resolute defence.

Blackburn's centre-back duo of Andy Todd and Nelsen were especially impressive as Liverpool failed to come to terms with the pressure being applied by the visitors.

But, while Blackburn were organised and committed, there was little of the creativity Liverpool needed to unhinge Mark Hughes's determined side.

The play of the home side betrayed the urgency of their situation as they chase Everton, who were eight points ahead having played a game more before kick-off, for a Champions League spot.

Everton boss David Moyes was a spectator at Anfield and he will have seen little to fear before the Merseyside rivals meet on Sunday.

Liverpool breathed a sigh of relief when Steven Reid just failed to meet a near-post Blackburn cross at the start of the second half before they created a promising opening at the other end.

John Arne Riise, surprisingly on the bench, came on as a half-time substitute and he pulled a ball back for Baros who ballooned a shot disappointingly high.

Riise pinged a free-kick wide and Carragher was angry at a penalty not being awarded for a push by Nelsen as the pair challenged to meet a Steven Gerrard cross.

But that was as close Liverpool got as they had to make do with a point which leaves them seven points behind Everton.

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Thor Zakariassen