Peter Crouch celebrating his winning goal. (Photo:
I don't care if we get no credit
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post Staff
Rafael Benitez insists he couldn't care less that
Liverpool are not getting the credit they deserve - as long
as his team keeps winning.
The European Champions ended an 85-year wait for FA Cup
victory over Manchester United on Saturday with a 1-0 fifth
round win at Anfield.
Peter Crouch headed the only goal on 19 minutes to give
Liverpool their third successive 1-0 win and end talk of a
damaging slump after Premiership defeats at United, Chelsea
and Charlton Athletic.
However, the plaudits have been slow in coming from many
pundits for Liverpool, who face Benfica in the Champions
League tomorrow night.
But Benitez is unconcerned, and he said: "I am not worried
about not being given credit. I prefer to think about my
team and believe in my players, and if they work hard then I
"I have a clear idea. The manager doesn't need people
speaking about him. As long as we keep winning, I don't
worry about what people say." Benitez was full of praise for
his team's performance against United at the weekend,
particularly a defence that kept a 27th clean sheet of the
"All the team played well," he said. "They started the
second half with four strikers, and we almost played four
against four at the back.
"The midfielders and wingers had to come back to support the
defenders. We tried to push out, and we didn't play deep
until the end when they were hitting long balls at us.
"United didn't create a lot of chances against us. They
didn't have any clear-cut chances, only on some second
"We put them under pressure, played with a high tempo all
the time. That was important."
Amazingly, the last opposition player to score at Anfield
was Chelsea's Geremi on October 2.
Liverpool had a possible penalty claim after their winning
goal on Saturday when Harry Kewell was felled by a tackle
from Ryan Giggs. Referee Howard Webb gave a free-kick, but
television replays showed the challenge was marginally
inside the area.
"It was inside the area, it was a penalty to Harry Kewell,"
said Benitez. "Watching it on the television, it looked like
On whether defeating United could have an impact on the race
with the Old Trafford side for second place in the
Premiership, Benitez added: "Maybe we can talk about this in
a month. At this moment, this was a good win for us looking
ahead to the Benfica game. It could still all change next
week when we play Manchester City, though.
"The most important thing for me is to see the team playing
against the top sides at the same level or winning. It means
that the team is stronger. We needed to win against the top
sides, and now we are playing against them at the same level
and beating them."
Agent: Alan will bounce back
Manchester United's Alan Smith has been told the horrific
injury he suffered in Saturday's FA Cup tie at Liverpool is
The midfielder's agent says Smith is managing to stay
remarkably upbeat and has expressed his gratitude for the
swift and largely sympathetic reaction from everyone at
Anfield after he suffered the season-ending blow.
There were reports of taunts from sections of the crowd when
Smith went down during the fifth-round clash after blocking
a free-kick by John Arne Riise in the last minute of normal
It emerged that the England international had suffered a
broken leg and a dislocated ankle, and required oxygen as he
was treated on the pitch before being carried off on a
He faces at least eight months on the sidelines, but agent
Alex Black insists the player is in a positive frame of mind
and was thankful for the support from the overwhelming
majority of people present.
"I think Alan just wants to say that the treatment from
Liverpool and all the Manchester United staff has been
fantastic," Black told BBC Radio Five Live.
"He was aware of what was going on to a certain degree and
he just wanted to say thank you to everybody for that."
He also told Sky Sports News: "He was a little bit delirious
as he was coming off but he was able to recognise that not
just the Manchester United fans but a lot of the Liverpool
fans were giving him a good round of applause."
Black was adamant that although the injury looked horrific,
Smith has the right mentality to make a full recovery.
"I spoke to Alan last night and he was in reasonably good
spirits," he added.
"As soon as Alan stays down for any injury, you know it's
something quite serious. As they called everybody over, you
feared the worst and when you see the pictures, it confirms
it a little bit.
"He managed to stay in control of himself, despite what must
have been excruciating pain. What appears to have happened
is when he dislocated his ankle, the force of that actually
broke his leg just above his ankle as well.
"We're hopeful that the pictures look a lot worse than (the
injury) actually is. The two injuries individually are both
serious but they're not major, major injuries and can be
treated in a relatively straightforward way, but the two
together make it a long healing process for him.
"Certainly from what Alan has been told, we're not under the
impression that it's at all career-threatening. It will be a
long process to come back but if anybody is going to come
back from it, it'll be Alan.
"He is tough, not just physically but mentally as well, so
he's already started to talk about how quickly he can come
back and get himself going again.
"He's having his operation on Sunday morning which will put
him in a pot for six to eight weeks and then they'll know
the extent of the damage to his ligaments as soon as it
Scoring the winner is so special
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Peter Crouch reflected on his FA Cup winner against
Manchester United and admitted: "That's probably the biggest
goal of my career."
Crouch stooped to head past Edwin van der Sar after 18
minutes of today's Cup clash to net his first goal of the
It proved to be the winning strike on the day the Reds
celebrated beating United in an FA Cup tie for the first
time in 85 years.
"Liverpool against Man United is probably the biggest
fixture in English football and so to get the winner is
something special," said Crouch.
"We were heartbroken to lose in the last minute at Old
Trafford in the league and so this makes up for that.
"I thought we deserved it overall. We competed with them,
played at a high tempo and probably created more chances.
It's a great win for us and one we are going to enjoy."
Crouch was forced off the field for a couple of minutes in
the second half as stitches were applied to a nasty head
"It doesn't look pretty above my eye," he added. "The doctor
did well to get me back out there playing as quickly as
"It'll probably feel a bit sore tonight but I'll take that
in return for us winning the game."
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez praised Liverpool's fans after The Reds beat
arch rivals Manchester United 1-0 to reach the FA Cup
Peter Crouch claimed the crucial strike in the first half as
the men from Merseyside beat their Mancunian opponents for
the first time in the competition since 1921.
Spanish boss Benitez hailed the club's vociferous support
for firing his team on, and praised his players for
controlling the game against a lacklustre United.
"After 85 years to beat Manchester United is fantastic,"
Benitez told the club's official website.
"We need to enjoy this win with our supporters and we
deserved it. Our supporters were fantastic and the team
responded to them.
"For me team work was the key and we worked really hard all
"When you play against the top sides you need to play at a
high tempo. We controlled the first half and scored a good
goal and created some good chances.
"Manchester United didn't create clear cut chances and we
defended well. We have a lot of confidence and it is really
good for the team and the supporters."
Crouch stoops to conquer United
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Liverpool claimed their first FA Cup victory over
Manchester United for 85 years with relative ease as they
confirmed their place in the quarter finals with a 1-0 win
A first half Peter Crouch header gave The Reds revenge for
the defeat at Old Trafford in January that saw Gary Neville
charged by the FA for his controversial celebrations.
However there was little cause for joy for the United
skipper in the latest instalment in one of English
football's most heated derbies, as a shaky backline
contributed to United's exit from the competition they have
won on 11 occasions.
Indeed matters were compounded for the visitors in the final
minutes as substitute Alan Smith had to be stretchered off
after a nasty looking leg injury that caused considerable
concern in the Red Devils' ranks.
Neville was predictably the recipient of some heavy booing
after his antics at Old Trafford, and the England
international was also on the receiving end of a crunching
challenge from Harry Kewell within four minutes that could
have yielded a booking for the Australian international.
The opening exchanges were not quite providing the spectacle
expected of this clash between English football's most
successful teams, but Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo
attempted to inject some energy into the affair as he
unleashed a low drive that Jose Reina grabbed at the second
Liverpool maintained an aerial bombardment with a series of
John Arne Riise throw-ins and Gerrard set-pieces, and were
millimetres away from taking the lead when Edwin van der Sar
dived to tip away a Kewell header with the very ends of his
fingers after a dangerous free-kick from the Reds captain.
However from the resulting corner Crouch was on hand to
become the first Liverpool striker to score in 2006 as he
sent Anfield into raptures on 19 minutes.
Gerrard's short corner saw Steve Finnan find the gangly
hit-man unmarked, and van der Sar was unable to replicate
his previous heroics as his touch failed to prevent Crouch's
header going in off the post.
United were keen to respond immediately but were struggling
to test Reina, and Riise did well to block a Wayne Rooney
effort after Darren Fletcher had played the young star in on
the edge of the box.
However it was Liverpool who posed more of a threat as a
United backline shorn of Rio Ferdinand due to injury looked
uneasy on a number of occasions - although Nemanja Vidic
produced a good block to prevent Fernando Morientes a sight
at goal just after the half hour mark.
Just a minute later The Reds should have had a penalty when
Ryan Giggs received a yellow card as he came through the
back of Kewell, and, from the Gerrard free-kick given
instead, Finnan was lurking unmarked at the far post and
only found the side netting as he wasted a glorious volleyed
Mohamed Sissoko also attempted an ambitious long range
effort as Liverpool ended the half firmly on top to give
Ferguson plenty to ponder at the interval.
The Scot responded to his side's troubles by introducing
French striker Louis Saha for defensive compatriot Mikael
Silvestre, but the defensive jitters continued early in the
second period when Wes Brown headed just over his own bar
from a Riise cross.
His central partner Vidic, new to the club in January, also
looked uncomfortable and a lack of communication between the
Serbia & Montenegro international and van der Sar allowed
Crouch to steal in and a hook a long leg around the defender
- although his effort crept wide of the post with the United
Seemingly lacking inspiration, the visitors suddenly
threatened as Neville delivered a top-quality cross from the
right that Finnan intercepted with Ruud van Nistelrooy
waiting to tap into an empty net.
Sami Hyypia then found his name in the book after a
challenge on Neville, and from the resultant Giggs free-kick
Rooney, puzzlingly left unattended on the edge of the box,
pulled his drive wide.
Despite their brief flurry United still looked shaky at the
back, and van der Sar flailed at an attempted punch to set
up a run of play that saw Crouch head weakly at the Dutchman
from another Gerrard corner.
Van Nistelrooy was enduring a frustrating afternoon as he
turned neatly before losing the ball in the box, and was
later denied by an offside flag after a neat through-ball
For Liverpool both Sissoko and Kewell pulled shots wide
across the face of goal when they should really have given
van der Sar a stern test, but United's defence were failing
their own examination as both Neville and Vidic were shown
the yellow card for clumsy challenges on Kewell and Luis
The ongoing Feud between the United captain and Liverpool's
Australian winger continued as Kewell also sustained a
yellow for a clattering piece of retribution, whilst
Ferguson's men looked to be finding their range when van
Nistelrooy saw an overhead kick deflected wide by Jamie
Carragher before Giggs fizzed a strong volley just over.
The Welsh star also saw a free-kick hit the wall, with
Ronaldo also unable to beat Reina from a drive, before
United's woes were compounded by a nasty injury to
substitute Alan Smith.
Play was delayed for a lengthy spell as the midfielder was
attended to on the pitch, with Smith appearing to sustain
substantial damage to his ankle after blocking a Riise
free-kick and landing on his left leg.
Seven additional minutes were added after Smith was
stretchered off the field of play, but United were unable to
threaten in what remained of the tie as they bowed out of
the FA Cup at Anfield.