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
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
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
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
"They have found a system that suits them and they are
doing well at the moment."
at Rover's rearguard
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
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
"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
"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
Reds striker Milan Baros had a rare chance only to
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