update on Gerrard,
Alonso and Keane
Liverpool Daily Post
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is
hopeful key trio Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Robbie
Keane will be available for Sunday’s crunch showdown at
None of them finished last night’s 1-1 Champions League draw
at Atletico Madrid, with striker Keane and midfielder Alonso
both struggling with knocks, and captain Gerrard suffering
It will not be known until later today how serious the
problems are but Benitez is keeping his fingers crossed
there is nothing too serious to worry about.
“The three players have had some problems,” said Benitez,
whose side are locked at the top of the Barclays Premier
League with Chelsea on 20 points.
“It was a little bit of a muscle problem for Robbie. Gerrard
is okay. He was really tired and Alonso has a knock on his
Keane, who had given Liverpool a 14th-minute lead at the
Vicente Calderon before Simao Sabrosa earned Atletico a
point with a late equaliser, was the first to be taken off
when he was replaced by Dirk Kuyt just after half-time.
“We need to check with Keane. I don’t think it will be
serious, but anyway we need to take care of him. He will see
the doctor,” Benitez said.
“We are trying to keep players with fresh legs and 100% fit,
so we were trying to protect all of them.”
When asked if he had any fitness concerns for the clash with
Chelsea, Benitez answered: “I don’t know now, we will have
to wait for tomorrow.”
Gerrard was the next to make way, being replaced by Ryan
Babel in the 61st minute, before Alonso left the action with
15 minutes to go, Lucas taking his place.
Eight minutes after Alonso’s departure, Atletico managed to
equalise, but when asked if the change had played a part in
the goal, Benitez insisted he had no choice but to replace
the Spain international.
“I explained the reason already, he was injured and he was
asking for the substitution,” he said.
Liverpool were without the services of star striker Fernando
Torres for the match, with the former Atletico hero
remaining in England to continue his recovery from a
Benitez admits things might have turned out differently if
the prolific forward had played, but preferred not to dwell
on the subject.
“Obviously he’s a special player and it could have been a
different match. But he was unavailable so it doesn’t
matter. He couldn’t play,” he said.
Liverpool had been good value for their half-time lead at
the Vicente Calderon after limiting Atletico to just a
couple of half-chances in the opening period.
However, the Rojiblancos looked a much better side after the
break following the arrival of star striker Sergio Aguero,
who had started the game on the bench due to concerns about
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina admitted the young
Argentinian helped turn the game around for the Spanish
“He is a tricky player who you notice when he is on the
pitch because he causes a lot of problems and is difficult
to stop,” said Reina.
“What is really important now is to get to 10 points and not
slip up at home.”
Wednesday’s result leaves Atletico and Liverpool locked at
the top of Group D with seven points from their opening
three games, with the pair meeting again at Anfield on
a missed opportunity
By Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post
Rafael Benitez rued a missed opportunity
in Madrid as goalscorer Robbie Keane handed Liverpool a
major injury scare.
Keane gave the visitors a 14th-minute lead in their
Champions League game at Atletico Madrid last night before
being forced off with a groin problem shortly after
Simao Sabrosa’s equaliser seven minutes from time then ended
Liverpool’s 100% record in Group D and keeps the Anfield
outfit level with the Spaniards at the top.
With Fernando Torres almost certain to miss Sunday’s Premier
League showdown at Chelsea, an injury to Keane is a major
concern to Benitez, who also substituted both Steven Gerrard
and Xabi Alonso during the second half.
Keane’s injury will be assessed at Melwood this morning, and
the Liverpool manager said: “A few players had some
problems. They were tired, and we were trying to keep the
players having fresh legs and 100% fit. We were trying to
protect all of them.
“Robbie was feeling his groin, a muscle problem. I don’t
think it’s anything serious but we needed to replace him.
“We need to check on him. As always the key will be the
doctor, and for Torres I think it will be difficult for him
to be fit for Sunday.
“Gerrard didn’t say he had a problem but I thought he was
tired, and Alonso had a knock on his knee and was asking to
Liverpool wasted a number of chances to extend their lead
before Atletico, prompted by the second-half introduction of
Argentine wonder-kid Sergio Aguero, worked their way back
into the game.
And Benitez said: “We had control of the game in the first
half and part of the second half but I’m disappointed as we
had chances to finish the game and kill the game.
“It’s a problem when you have this situation and on 83
minutes you make a mistake and they score.
“We’re still in control of the group, and if you had said to
me at the start that we’d have seven points from three games
then I’d have taken that.
“But after going 83 minutes with those chances and
controlling the game, I have to say it feels now as though
we have dropped two points.”
Benitez added: “Torres’s absence didn’t affect the game.
Torres is a special and different player, but he wasn’t
available so there’s no point talking about his qualities.
“The entrance of Aguero gave more depth to their play and we
defended worse and they took advantage of the wind to play
Both teams appeared to have goals wrongly disallowed for
offside while Albert Riera could have been awarded a
first-half penalty even though he was rightly booked for
diving by referee Claus Bo Hansen.
“I didn’t see any replays so I can’t say anything,” said
Benitez. “But we had plenty of other situations in front of
goal or on the edge of the box that we couldn’t finish to
not need to talk about the referee decisions.
“The ref was okay, if you analyse every situation you might
find some wrong, but I didn’t have a problem with him.”
Of the match officials, Atletico coach Javier Aguirre said:
“It’s useless to talk about refereeing decisions. They have
gone and we can’t do anything about them.”
The game passed off without incident off the field despite
concerns prompted by trouble at Atletico’s previous home
Champions League game against Marseille earlier this month,
for which the Spaniards must now play their next two home
European games at least 200 miles from Madird.
PSV Eindhoven beat Marseille 2-0 in last night’s other Group
Keane happy with point in Spain
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Robbie Keane reflected on Liverpool's 1-1
draw with Atletico Madrid in Spain and admitted: "We're
to take a point."
The Reds led until seven minutes from time when the home
side salvaged a point as Simao cancelled out Keane's first
It means both sides remain tied at the top of Group D with
seven points from three games - with the chance for one of
them to qualify with victory at Anfield in two weeks time.
"We dominated the first half and had a few chances," said
Keane. "In the second half it was more difficult, they came
back at us and got the goal.
"Because of the way the game ended we have to be happy with
a point and now we can look forward to playing them at
Keane had a golden chance to add a second in the first half
but somehow failed to make contact in front of goal from
Steven Gerrard's pinpoint cross.
"It was windy and the ball was moving all over the place but
no excuses, I should have scored," added the Irishman.
"It was a great ball from Stevie and I know I should have
done better. It was just one of those things."
Keane also revealed he felt a twinge in his groin during the
second period, forcing his substitution from the pitch.
"It's a little bit sore but I don't think it's too bad and
hopefully I'll be okay for Sunday," he said.
show denies Liverpool
Liverpool were denied all three points as
Simao Sabrosa's late goal earned Atletico Madrid a 1-1 draw
in their Champions League Group D clash.
The unmarked Simao drilled home a low shot with seven
minutes remaining at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night
to cancel out Robbie Keane's early opener for Liverpool as
the two sides, having each won their first two games,
remained unbeaten in Group D.
Liverpool controlled the first half and held a deserved lead
at the break but Atletico, who had been unbeaten in their
previous six home meetings with English opposition, fought
back to salvage a point which could ease the pressure on
under-fire coach Javier Aguirre.
The Champions League anthem at the start of the match was
greeted by jeers and whistles from the home fans, while the
Atletico supporters behind the goal also turned their backs
to the pitch in protest against the punishment handed out by
UEFA last week.
Atletico were given a three-match stadium ban in Europe and
fined by UEFA following crowd disturbances and accusations
of racism during their Champions League home match against
Atletico have appealed against the punishment, which is the
match against the Reds was able to go ahead at the Vicente
Calderon and not at least 300 kilometres away from Madrid.
However, there was no obvious repeat of those crowd
disturbances or racist chanting during Wednesday night's
clash, which saw Liverpool quickly settle into their stride.
Benitez's troops, unbeaten in their last 15 matches, could
barely have asked for an easier opening 45 minutes as they
took an early lead through Keane before comfortably
containing a toothless Atletico.
Keane's goal came not long after young Atletico midfielder
Ignacio Camacho had headed over the first chance of the
match following a Simao free-kick.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard created the chance with a
superb pass through for Keane, who beat the Atletico offside
trap before coolly slotting low past Leo Franco.
That was just the start Liverpool would have been hoping for
and Gerrard and Xabi Alonso both then tried their luck from
distance before Keane spurned a decent opening to double the
He again escaped the attentions of his markers to get on the
end of Gerrard's right-wing cross, but the Irishman
attempted an ambitious flick and ended up missing the ball.
At the other end, a much-changed Atletico, who had lost
their previous three league matches against Sevilla,
Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid, looked devoid of
ideas going forward in the first half.
The hosts finally gave their fans something to get excited
about in the 40th minute when former Manchester United
striker Diego Forlan unleashed a 25-yard drive that flew
just wide of Jose Reina's far post. Aside from that effort
though, the Liverpool custodian, one of four Spanish players
in the Liverpool line-up, had precious little to do before
Atletico coach Aguirre, under pressure following three
successive league defeats, decided it was time to change
things around at the break and he sent on star striker
Sergio Aguero for former Liverpool player Luis Garcia.
That change immediately appeared to give Atletico a lift as
they twice came close to an equaliser soon after the break.
The first opening saw Maniche pick up a pass from Forlan on
the far side of the area before firing in a shot that flew
into the far corner of the net.
However, the Portuguese player was left with his head in his
hands - along with the majority of the stadium - as he
noticed the offside flag had gone up.
From an almost identical position moments later, Simao then
drilled in a shot which Reina brilliantly helped onto the
post and then gathered at the second attempt as Liverpool
rode their luck.
Reina could do little about the goal that brought Atletico
back on level terms in the 83rd minute however.
Simao was left in acres of space on the far side of the area
and, after Forlan had picked him out, he drilled a low
left-footed shot past the diving Reina to level the scores
up at 1-1.
That goal set the stadium rocking and gave Atletico a huge
boost, and Miguel then tested Reina with a well-struck
volley soon afterwards.
Liverpool could have silenced the home crowd in the 89th
minute though when substitute Ryan Babel sent a diving
header just wide of the Atletico goal from close range, but
the match would end up finishing all-square.