Forlan plays down favourites tag
Diego Forlan refuses to
concede that Atletico Madrid's first-leg victory over
Liverpool makes them favourites to reach the Europa League
Forlan struck the only goal of Thursday night's semi-final
opener at the Estadio Vicente Calderon to put Atletico in
the box seat ahead of next week's return leg at Anfield.
Atletico have been in decent form away from home in the
competition so far, beating Turkish giants Galatasaray 2-1
in Istanbul and then holding both Sporting Lisbon and
Valencia to 2-2 draws to secure away-goals victories.
However, Liverpool have bounced back from first-leg deficits
in both of their previous rounds against Lille and Benfica
and Forlan acknowledges it will not be easy for his side at
The Uruguayan said: "I don't think we are favourites, we did
a good job here, we won the game and they didn't score, but
they are a strong team with good players and we know it's
going to be a difficult game.
"We've played there before in the Champions League and in a
friendly game, so we know how it's going to be. It's going
to be a tough game. We know they are very strong there. We
will have to play intelligently.
"But the team is prepared and we have to focus on events on
the pitch and not on what's off it."
Forlan gave Atletico the ideal start when he put the Spanish
side ahead after just eight minutes.
The Rojiblancos were unable to build on that though, despite
creating the better of the opportunities in the remainder of
Forlan missed one of the best openings after being left one
on one with Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina, who also did
well to deny Simao and Tomas Ujfalusi during the second
"The team played well. We had some chances to score more,
but they didn't score against us and that's important at
this stage of the competition," Forlan added.
"There are still 90 very difficult minutes left to get
through to the final."
Atletico winger Jose Antonio Reyes, the former Arsenal
player, added: "It's a slight advantage to take into the
second leg, but nothing is decided yet.
"We have to visit a difficult ground, where we need to try
and score a goal as soon as possible to make things more
comfortable for us in the tie.
"We are happy with the work we've done and we know that we
have to go to Liverpool with this same mentality."
Carra: We might need three
By Paul Hassall - LFC
believes Liverpool's Hamburg dream remains very much alive
but has warned of the threat Atletico Madrid will pose at
The defensive stalwart accepts the Reds will face a
difficult task when they bid to overturn a 1-0 first leg
deficit when they reconvene in L4 next Thursday.
However, our favourite number 23 is adamant Rafael Benitez's
men can still do it and is hopeful the 12th man will once
again play a role in roaring them to the final.
"It's going to be a tough at Anfield now and the way they
play on the counterattack, the demands will suit them," said
Carragher. "If they score, that will leave us needing three.
"We know what they will be trying to do. It is up to us to
stop them doing that. Hopefully the atmosphere will play a
big part and it will be enough.
"We have got to be disappointed with conceding so early but,
in some ways, we can be satisfied that we kept it at the
same score; it's certainly not the worst result.
"Atletico had three or four world class players in their
attack; you worry how a game might go sometimes when the
opposition gets an early goal but we were ok in the end."
Anyone searching for reason for cheer need only look towards
the fact Liverpool recovered from first-leg defeats in both
Lille and Benfica to progress in their previous two rounds.
That was thanks in no small part to the finishing ability of
Fernando Torres and Carra accepts it will be a tougher
proposition without the hitman.
He added "You can't rely on one player and Fernando isn't
here now," said Carragher. "To a certain extent, we have to
forget about him. He'll be preparing for next season now and
we have got to be positive we can do it without him."
happy to escape
only one goal down
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina insisted
"it could have been worse" despite his side's 1-0 defeat at
Atletico Madrid in their Europa League semi-final first leg.
Diego Forlan scored a scrappy early goal at the second
attempt after defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos slipped, and the
Reds were unable to muster a leveller.
Captain Steven Gerrard's drive into the side netting was the
closest they came, though Yossi Benayoun had a goal
disallowed following a marginal offside flag.
But Reina told Five: "The team didn't play well at all but
it is still possible - there are 90 minutes to play at
"We knew they were going to push - in the Calderon, they are
a strong team. But after 20 minutes we settled down a little
bit better and they didn't create too many things.
"We can't be happy but it could have been worse."
Reina made good saves from Simao Sabrosa and Tomas Ujfalusi,
while Forlan wasted a good one-on-one opportunity.
The Spaniard said: "We were a little unlucky (with the goal)
because Soto slipped.
"(The saves were) important to keep the tie alive - there is
still a long 90 minutes to go at Anfield.
"We are behind now and it is very difficult but if there is
one team who can do it with their fans behind them, it is
Stevie ready for 'big, big night'
By Jimmy Rice in Madrid - LFC Official Website
Steven Gerrard believes Atletico Madrid
will fear coming to Anfield next week regardless of their
Diego Forlan struck the only goal of the Europa League
semi-final opener on eight minutes to make it advantage
Atletico going into the Merseyside return next Thursday.
Gerrard accepts he and his teammates will have to up their
game - but he is confident they can still reach the final in
The skipper told Liverpoolfc.tv: "We're disappointed with
the result. The idea was to come here and try to get an away
goal, to try and pinch a win. After this result you'd
probably say Atletico are slight favourites
"But we'll have the Anfield crowd behind us next week, so
Atletico will be a man down and if we get the first goal
then the place will erupt. We'll see if we can get out of
the blocks a bit quicker.
"It's not the ideal result but it's not the worst. We feel
we can turn it around - we've done it before."
Gerrard added: "We had a couple of half chances but they got
out the blocks better and got a goal at a good time. We
reacted okay and got back into the game. We weren't at our
"This was a game of very few chances but I think it'll be
more exciting next week with the supporters behind us. If we
get the first goal it could be a big, big night."
confident of making final
Rafa Benitez is confident Liverpool can
win their Europa League semi-final tie at Anfield after a
narrow first-leg defeat at Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool slipped to a 1-0 loss at the Vicente Calderon on
Thursday night after Diego Forlan netted the only goal of a
tight game in the eighth minute.
Atletico had opportunities to build a bigger lead, with Jose
Reina denying Simao Sabrosa and Tomas Ujfalusi in the second
period and Forlan spurning a good chance when one-on-one
with the Spain international.
At the other end, Liverpool found decent goalscoring chances
hard to come by, with captain Steven Gerrard firing one of
their best openings into the side-netting prior to the
The Reds did, however, have a goal disallowed early on for
offside against Yossi Benayoun - a strike Benitez felt
should have stood.
The defeat leaves Liverpool with a hill to climb in next
week's second leg at Anfield, but Benitez was in optimistic
mood after the game.
"I have a lot of confidence of playing at Anfield, in our
players and in our fans. Today we had a lot of fans behind
the team and that was very positive, and at Anfield we will
have more of them," said Benitez.
"It could have been better, it could have been worse and
everything will be decided at Anfield where we will go out
to fight and have all our supporters behind us."
Benitez also played down the effect of tiredness after his
side were forced to make a long journey to Spain by road and
rail after the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud left flights
grounded earlier in the week.
"It was fine," he said. "We were working hard so that was
the main thing."
Liverpool are no strangers to needing European comebacks.
In the quarter-finals they trailed 2-1 after the first leg
against Benfica before claiming a 5-3 aggregate victory,
while in the last 16 they also lost the first meeting 1-0
against Lille before going through 3-1.
"We've been in the same situation before and we've found out
we can win, so hopefully it will be the same again," added
"I also think in the past we've been losing 1-0 in games
down the years and we were in that final, so that's quite
"We know that it will be difficult because 1-0 is always a
dangerous score, but we are still confident.
"We've done it in the past and we have to approach the game
with this confidence and it would then be easier for us to
play better and to score more goals."
Liverpool were again missing Fernando Torres after he
underwent season-ending knee surgery at the weekend.
As such, the five-time European champions looked short of a
cutting edge up front, but having scored three against West
Ham on Monday without the Spain ace, Benitez is confident
they will still pose a serious goal threat against Atletico
"I think we proved the other day that we can score goals. It
doesn't matter which player, but we have players who can
score. Of course we have to push and attack and I'm sure
someone will score," he said.
Forlan thwarts Reds in Spain
By Elliot Ball - Sky Sports
Diego Forlan came back to haunt Liverpool
to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 advantage in their Europa
The former Manchester United striker gave the Primera Liga
side a narrow edge going into the return leg at Anfield next
Thursday after capitalising on some hopeless defending in
the ninth minute.
Jose Manuel Jurado's ball into the box was met by Forlan,
who was offered two bites at the cherry to give the Spanish
outfit the perfect start on home soil.
Liverpool recovered and saw Yossi Benayoun disallowed what
appeared a legitimate goal after being flagged offside
midway through the first-half but in a match that failed to
inspire, Rafa Benitez's side require a typical effort on
Merseyside to reach the Hamburg showpiece on 12th May.
The Reds missed their injured striker Fernando Torres almost
as much as the former darling of the Vicente Calderon missed
the chance to face his old club, having also been denied
that opportunity in the UEFA Champions League last season
because of more fitness problems.
Benitez had insisted the 1,200-mile journey by coach, train
and eventually plane - after Uefa's insistence the match go
ahead despite the volcanic ash cloud which grounded flights
across Europe - had brought his squad closer together.
If only his defence had been tighter-knit in the ninth
minute then they may not have conceded.
No-one will ever really know whether their exertions in
getting to the Spanish capital had an impact but it was a
sloppy piece of marking which cost them.
Forlan became something of a cult hero among United fans
with both goals in a 2-1 victory at Anfield in 2002, albeit
assisted by Reds goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek.
And it was he who returned to torment the Merseysiders when
Jurado's cross from the left dropped over Jamie Carragher
and picked him out on the edge of the six-yard area.
His first attempt at a header was reminiscent of those early
United days when he earned the nickname "Diego Forlorn"
because of his difficulty in scoring.
However, the Uruguayan is a better, more experienced - and
even luckier - player now and as the ball from his duff
header dropped right at his feet he poked it home off
goalkeeper Jose Reina.
Had Benayoun enjoyed a similar slice of good fortune a
minute later from Dirk Kuyt's cross his header would have
nestled in the net instead of flying wide of the far post.
The Israeli beat Atletico goalkeeper David de Gea eight
minutes later but again the luck was against him, this time
by virtue of a wrong offside decision.
Kuyt's miss-hit shot bobbled into the penalty area where
Benayoun slotted the ball home only to be denied by an
erroneous flag, as television replays proved.
Still Liverpool came forward and Steven Gerrard should have
done better moments later when Lucas Leiva put him through
only for the captain to shoot left-footed into the
side-netting when he should have least hit the target.
But Atletico's threat had not diminished and their neat
triangles in the final third of the pitch often cut open the
Even right-back Tomas Ujfalusi got in on the act, weaving
into the penalty area before shooting into the side-netting
five minutes before half-time.
Forlan fluffed another a good chance soon after the break
when he was put through on the edge of the penalty area but
it was Reina's brilliance in producing a one-handed save
which denied one-time Liverpool target Simao from Ujfalusi's
The goalkeeper came to his side's rescue again as he beat
away Ujfalusi's long-range strike and Carragher cleared as
Atletico regained the initiative.
But Liverpool's experience and proud history, this match
seeing them become the first English club to play in 16
European semi-finals, ensured they made a fight of it and,
more importantly, did not concede again.
Of those 16 last-four encounters they have lost only four
overall and their record when playing semi-final second legs
at home is seven victories and one draw.
That statistic alone shows the power of Anfield on European
Time will only tell how much Liverpool's long-distance
travails on train, coach and plane cost them.
But, with fourth place in the Premier League looking beyond
them, anything other than victory next week is likely to
bring their season to a premature end.