need spirit of Istanbul
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Sami Hyypia urged Liverpool to summon the spirit of
Istanbul to keep their hands on the European Cup.
A disappointing night in Lisbon was made worse by a serious
eye injury suffered by midfielder Momo Sissoko.
But centre-half Hyypia is sure the tie can be transformed at
"We're wondering how we lost the goal," said Hyypia..
"We watched the video of the set-pieces and knew what they
would do, but we were sleeping.
"It's a painful way to lose the game but it's not over yet.
Now we know what we have to do at Anfield.
"We can take inspiration from what we did last season. It's
a similar situation to Olympiakos when we had to win by two
"Every game is different but now we have to win by more
goals. Even it had finished 0-0, we know we'd still have to
beat them at Anfield.
"We can score two goals and stop them scoring. It's not
impossible, even though it's very disappointing. It's a
two-legged tie and we are only halfway through.
"We're not happy about the result and we have to play better
in the second leg.
"It will be a special atmosphere in the stadium. I'm sure it
will be full and I hope we can give our supporters something
"An away goal would have been important but we have to think
we can beat them 2-0. We can get at them at Anfield. We have
to put them under more pressure than we did last night."
missed midfield magic
By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
I am still shaking my head in disbelief at Liverpool's
How can you dominate an away European game and fail to
create any worthwhile chances?
I thought the Reds looked comfortable throughout against one
of the worst Benfica sides I have ever seen, but it seemed
complacency cost them.
A draw would have been a good result, but the Portuguese
were there for the taking - and I could not understand why
changes were made.
Last night we had a midfield line-up of Luis Garcia, Momo
Sissoko, Xabi Alonso and Harry Kewell. They failed to
provide the thrust to get at a home team who began very
nervously and looked to be happy trying to play a containing
But we provided little service to our attackers and, apart
from one early error from the keeper, we didn't threaten a
Contrast that to last Saturday when an excellent midfield
show had included Didi Hamann and Steven Gerrard in the fine
win over Manchester United.
Gerrard may have been injured but, if so, what was he doing
on the bench?
The skipper appeared late on, but why were he and Hamann not
playing from the start, causing the sort of problems they
had done against United?
They are star play-ers the team cannot do without in that
sort of game.
My former boss Bill Shankly always believed you should play
your best team, while Bob Paisley used to say "Don't mend
something that isn't broken."
The tie is set up for another of those Anfield nights, but
the outcome should not be in doubt. We just didn't do enough
against opposition who were lacking confidence.
The wide men, Garcia and Kewell, failed to make any
impression in the wide areas.
You cannot give the ball away as often as Garcia did, while
I am still not convinced that Kewell is anywhere near his
best. He was facing Alicedes, who looked awful most of the
time, yet the midfielder hardly ever showed him a clean pair
We were commanding, creative and controlled everything
against United, but we were only a shadow of that last night
with the missing duo.
We have a problem scoring goals, but Robbie Fowler, who
still looks short of match fitness, and Nando Morientes were
not given a chance, such was the lack of penetration.
Fowler is a goal poacher and thrives on chances in the six
yard box, but he had little opportunity to prove a threat.
A draw would have been satisfactory, but the game was there
to be won. Rafa Benitez has produced a team who can defend
their crown, but he must pick his strongest side. That
message is clear.
We fell to a sucker punch in another set piece when our
defence was caught off guard. But, generally, they have been
great all season. It's further up the field that we have
After the sort of game we witnessed last night at least the
keepers didn't need to wash their kit!
* THE FA Cup draw offers us a good chance of progress.
Birmingham present a hurdle we should overcome, but we can't
Lack of goals - against Birmingham twice and United away -
is costing us when, really, we should be sweeping most teams
Winning the European Cup was a big thing last season. Now we
should be looking to add more silverware to the trophy
cabinet this season.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez promised a better
display in the second leg of their Champions League last-16
clash with Benfica when the sides face each other again at
Anfield in a fortnight.
And he also defended the decision not to risk captain Steven
Gerrard, who was suffering from a minor leg injury.
Gerrard only came on for the final 12 minutes but Benfica
scored with six minutes to go, leaving Liverpool with a
massive task to stay in the competition.
"I would rather have Steven available for the next month
rather than just 80 minutes of this match," said Benitez,
who may have another injury worry after midfielder Mohamed
Sissoko needed hospital treatment after suffering blurred
vision following a kick to the head he received in the first
Sissoko was carried off and Liverpool's medical staff were
still assessing the injury after the match.
The Liverpool boss also cast doubt over the free-kick which
saw Benfica score their winner through defender Anderson
"We have seen the video and I do not think it was a
free-kick," Benitez added.
"It was disappointing to concede a free-kick in that
position so late in the game. We had discussed how dangerous
they were from that particular set-piece and we ended up
letting them score from it.
"But I have confidence that we can play much better at
Anfield. We need to score one quickly and with our fans
behind us I believe we can go on to win the game and the
Benitez added: "I was happy with the effort of my players
but maybe we could have attacked more.
"But it is hard for us after the amount of games we have
played this season to perform at a high tempo all the time."
In contrast, Benfica boss Ronald Koeman was satisfied
with his side's performance.
"It was not a fantastic game but it was a fantastic occasion
for Benfica," he said.
"We did not start well but we attacked more in the second
half and created more.
"We needed only one goal and we deserved what we got.
Liverpool defended very well and it was not easy to create
"The midfield players had a lot of problems creating chances
against such good defence.
"They will attack more at Anfield but their way of play is
always similar. In the second leg Steven Gerrard will play
from the start.
"But we know that if we score one, they must score three. We
are more favourites now, Liverpool were but we are now
"It was their first defeat in the Champions League proper
[this season] and Liverpool have played Chelsea twice and
"But we have now beaten them as well as Manchester United,
it shows we are also a good side."
slip to late defeat
By James Pearson - Sky Sports
Liverpool fell for the sucker punch in Portugal as
Benfica bagged a 1-0 first leg lead in the UEFA Champions
League thanks to Luisao's late header.
The contest was even through-out with neither side in truth
looking like forging ahead until the Brazilian defender got
his head on Petit's free-kick.
The Reds had been water-tight in Europe with Real Betis the
last side to breach their defence, but they find themselves
making up a deficit for the return leg at Anfield.
The match began in heated fashion with Luis Garcia lucky to
escape with just a yellow card from referee Konrad Plautz
for clattering Leo after just 20 seconds.
Chances were few and far between in the opening half,
although Sami Hyypia was close to connecting with Robbie
Fowler's flick from Xabi Alonso's free-kick.
The visitors continued to look the more likely to open the
scoring and keeper Marcelo Moretto was lucky Fowler failed
to redirect the ball after it spilled from his grasp.
Benfica then created their best opening of the half, but
after Simao Sabrosa was superbly played in, Jose Reina was
quick off his line to dispossess the forward.
Rafa Benitez was forced into a change when Dietmar Hamann
was called into action after Mohammed Sissoko went off with
a head injury from Beto's high boot.
Neither keeper was troubled before half-time with John Arne
Riise's long shot well wide of goal while Simao's free-kick
was also high, wide and handsome.
The game continued to disappoint after the break with little
action in either penalty area.
The first shot on target arrived shortly after the hour mark
when Petit tried his luck from distance only for Reina to
prevent the ball nestling in the top corner.
Benitez attempted to shake things up in attack bringing on
Djibril Cisse for Fowler, but the switch failed to spark
Riise's long throw-in from the left gave Fernando Morientes
a chance in the air, although his header floated over
With the game entering the closing stages the visitors were
stunned when Luisao out-muscled Hyypia to nod home past the
stranded Reina from close-range.
Petit came close to doubling the advantage, but his chipped
shot was tame and easily gathered by Reina.
Liverpool pushed forward in search of an equaliser although
they rarely threatened Moretto's goal and now have it all to
do in two weeks' time.