After The Match 


Fiorentina-Liverpool 2-0 (2-0)          29.9.09                       CL
Goals: Jovetic (28, 37)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Insua, Carragher, Skrtel, Lucas, Gerrard, Benayoun, Aurelio, Kuyt, Torres
Subs: Babel (Insua 71), Voronin (Kuyt 80)
Not used: Cavalieri, Riera, Kyrgiakos, Spearing, Plessis
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: Felix Brych (Ger)
Attendance: 33,426
Shots on target: 4-4
Shots off target: 3-6
Blocked shots: 3-3
Fouls conceded: 9-15
Corners: 4-10
Offsides: 4-3
Possession: 39.3-60.7
Yellow: 0-0

"Fiorentina were on
top of us everywhere."
Rafael Benitez
0110: Stevie G is LFC's new number 13
3009: Benitez wants more from star pair
3009: Gerrard: We got what we deserved
3009: Fiorentina bring Liverpool FC
          back down to earth

3009: Aurelio: We can bounce back at Chelsea
3009: Liverpool FC must remember
          and rectify failings in Florence

2909: Viola expose Liverpool's deficiencies
2909: Benitez blasts below-par Reds
2909: Liverpool pay heavy price
          for bad start against Fiorentina

Stevie G is LFC's new number 13


Reds skipper Steven Gerrard moved up a place to number 13 in the club's all-time table for number of games played in all competitions having turned out at Fiorentina on Tuesday.

This was his 493rd game for Liverpool, although this is 94 behind Jamie Carragher, our most experienced current player who is ranked ninth.

The 29-year old Huyton-born lad signed on as a pro in 1997, and is currently contracted with the club until 2013. He has so far bagged an impressive 123 goals in his 493 appearances, and he is just five strikes short of moving up into our top ten goalscorers of all time.

His 493 games to date are made up of 340 in the Premiership, 103 in Europe, 26 FA Cup, twenty in the League Cup and two each in the FA Charity/Community Shield and FIFA Club World Championship.

Gerrard's 493rd game drew him level with Irish midfielder Ronnie Whelan. He signed from Home Farm for £35,000 in September 1979, netting 73 times in his fifteen years with the reds and winning six League titles, one European Cup, two FA Cups, three League Cups and three FA Charity Shields.

It will take a further 56 games before Stevie can break into the club's all-time Top 10 appearance holders, and he would then still be more than 300 games behind Ian Callaghan, who is likely to forever remain the Liverpool player who tops the appearance charts.

Next in his sights is Kenny Dalglish, whom he is likely to match later this season as he is only 22 games ahead of Gerrard at present, on 515.

Benitez wants more from star pair


Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has revealed his disappointment over the Champions League displays of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

The partnership had been given the big build-up ahead of Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at Fiorentina in Group E.

But both were well marshalled by an organised Fiorentina side, in which defenders Alessandro Gamberini and Dario Dainelli had outstanding games, along with former Juventus midfielder Cristiano Zanetti.

Benitez admitted: "Fiorentina did a good job (against Gerrard and Torres).

"It was disappointing to see them both kept out of the game as they were. The Fiorentina defenders handled them very well, they worked really hard against them.

"But it is not just about two players, nobody in the team was producing anything.

"Sometimes when defenders are too worried about Gerrard and Torres, it gives the rest of our team the chance to make use of the space.

"They can take that responsibility, but for long periods that did not happen.

"But this is not the end of things in Europe for us, and we must re-group and show the right mentality for our next match against Chelsea on Sunday."

Benitez was clearly stunned and angered by his side's poor display in Florence, and said: "What happened, particularly in the first half, is very hard to explain.

"We were expecting a difficult game, we knew Fiorentina would work hard and really press us when we were in possession, but we gave the ball away and we were not in the game.

"But it was the same players, the same tactics on the pitch after the interval and they were much better.

"It is not right to blame the midfielders (Lucas and Fabio Aurelio). We were not right all over the pitch.

"The problems were too many. The strikers, the wingers, the centre-backs, they were all to blame. Fiorentina were on top of us everywhere.

"The second half was different with the same players. I was very surprised by what I saw in the first half. We try to be organised, to be compact as a team.

"But it was too easy for them to get forward, to work 'between the lines' and to cause us problems. We were always arriving late for things.

"The players were frustrated with some decisions, but that was not the cause. We were not good enough and they let their frustrations show.

"The next two games in the group against Lyon are very important. We only have four games left in this group so we need two wins for sure. We must keep going until the end, we have to be ready for the next matches."

Gerrard: We got what we deserved

Sporting Life

Steven Gerrard has revealed his dismay after Liverpool's Champions League horror show in Florence which has thrown their quest to reach the knock-out stages into disarray.

Liverpool were soundly beaten 2-0 by Fiorentina in the Stadio Artemio Franchi, and now face tricky back-to-back clashes with Group E leaders Lyon, who have won each of their two matches so far.

Captain Gerrard accepted the criticism of Liverpool's abject performance, saying: "We just didn't turn up."

But he also remained optimistic, claiming: "We will be fine if we win our home games."

However, he knows that Liverpool are now under intense pressure of their own making.

Liverpool's display in Italy was made particularly surprising given that it came after six successive victories for the Anfield men and much praise for the deluge of goals so far this campaign.

While Liverpool prepare to face French giants Lyon - at home on October 20 and away on November 4 - Fiorentina can expect to be winning their own back-to-back ties with Debrecen on those dates.

The Hungarian champions are already proving the whipping boys of the group, without a point or goal following two defeats.

They lost 4-0 at home to Lyon last night, and Fiorentina will be expected to win both their matches against a club in their first Champions League group campaign.

That would give Fiorentina nine points, and leave Liverpool with it all to do against Lyon.

Gerrard said: "We were disappointed to lose in Florence, we were second best all over the pitch and deserved to go in at the break losing.

"The reaction was better in the second half and we created some chances, but we just could not get into the game.

"We did not do what we usually do away from home in Europe, there was no real tempo in our game.

"We normal play at a high tempo and pass the ball really well, and play well on the counter-attack.

"But all over the pitch, front to back, we just did not turn up, particularly in that first half.

"But I believe this group is still wide open, there's plenty of football to be played and we are now in the same position as Fiorentina with a win and a defeat, and they still have to face us at Anfield.

"If we win our next home game, and that's against the group leaders Lyon, things will be different. If we win our home games now that should still be enough, we'll be fine.

"But we need to get this defeat out of our system quickly, because we have a massive game now at Chelsea on Sunday.

"What we need is to produce a reaction from this defeat at Stamford Bridge, that has to be the aim now."

Liverpool were shattered by a first-half double from teenage striker Stevan Jovetic, the Montenegro international.

Gerrard admitted: "We knew a bit about them so we had an idea what to expect, and their young striker did well.

"We will have to keep an eye on him at Anfield, that's for sure."

Fiorentina bring Liverpool FC
back down to earth

Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

So it’s back down to earth with a very big bump for Liverpool. We were well beaten by Fiorentina and can have no complaints. They were better than us in every department in that first half.

We struggled to put any sort of possession together or mount a meaningful attack, while Forentina looked hungrier and sharper in the tackle and with their movement. It was hugely disappointing.

For me, we lost the battle in central midfield from first whistle. By the time we regained some control, they were 2-0 up, and doing what all Italian sides do when in front.


Perhaps there was an element of complacency in the air after the big win over Hull. But we looked nothing like ourselves in that first 45 minutes, whatever the reason for it.

I don’t wish to single out individuals on a night when nobody had a really good game. But with Lucas and Aurelio paired together in midfield, we just did not look solid enough.

It was also a night for me when we really missed Xabi Alonso’s experience at European level. Add in Javier Mascherano’s injury, which deprived us of a real tigerish midifielder with top international experience, and we looked vulnerable down the middle.

Thankfully this defeat isn’t fatal but we’ll have to buck our ideas up. The sooner we can get not only Mascherano back in, but also £20m new boy Alberto Aquilani too, the better now.

If there are any silver linings to a night of disappointment then it is that nobody should be taking anything for granted against Chelsea on Sunday.

It’s a massive game at Stamford Bridge and one we can win. So if this serves as a bit of a jolt, then maybe it’s ok.

But we cannot afford a repeat of the lethargy on show in the first half in Italy last night.

Aurelio: We can bounce
back at Chelsea

By Paul Hassall in Florence - LFC Official Website

Fabio Aurelio is confident Liverpool can bounce back from their Fiorentina defeat when they take on Chelsea in a top of the table clash on Sunday.

The Brazilian defender admits the 2-0 loss in Florence was difficult to take but feels they cannot dwell on the past and is eager to make amends at Stamford Bridge.

"We would have hoped for a better result here, but we can't think about that now and must think about the future," he told

"We have an important game in the Barclays Premier League against Chelsea on Sunday and we must try to make things right.

"Football is like this. You cannot think in the past, you must always look to the future. Hopefully it will be a different game and we can go there and get a result."

A poor first-half in the Stadio Artemio Franchi proved to be Liverpool's undoing as Stevan Jovetic's brace earned the points for La Viola.

The Reds improved after the break and, although they went close to reducing the arrears, Aurelio admits the players are frustrated by the result.

"I think it was a game of two halves," he said.

"In the first-half, Fiorentina started really well and we struggled to play and keep the ball. It meant we were under pressure and made mistakes.

"In the second-half we started differently. Maybe they weren't as strong as they had been and it allowed us to manage the game better.

"We were able to create chances but unfortunately we didn't take them and couldn't put the pressure on.

"We are very disappointed with the result."

Liverpool FC must remember
and rectify failings in Florence

Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post

Florence is considered the home of the Italian Renaissance. Now Rafael Benitez will hope it does not prove the end of Liverpool’s recent revival.

The man dubbed the ‘Montenegrin Messi’ condemned the Spaniard’s side to a first Champions League group defeat in almost two years and exposed the frailties that threaten their hopes of silverware this campaign.

Stevan Jovetic struck twice inside 11 first-half minutes as a run of six straight victories for Liverpool ended with a dismal 2-0 loss to Fiorentina.

Jovetic, a 19-year-old Montenegro international, has already been courted by Real Madrid and Manchester United during his brief career. No wonder.

But there was no defence for this Liverpool performance. And that will be the problem Benitez must hope to address before Sunday’s crunch Premier League trip to Chelsea.

The soft centre that has worryingly hampered Liverpool’s efforts this season melted away completely during a torrid first half that must rank among their worst in the competition under Benitez.

Martin Skrtel in particular endured a miserable evening. But the Slovak wasn’t alone, both full-backs ineffective, the midfield powder-puff and the attack lacklustre until it was far too late.

Of course, there will be no panic at Anfield. With four games to go in Group E, Benitez’s side have plenty of scope to make amends for this setback and the strength of their second-half comeback will provide at least some encouragement.

The warning signs had been there with the struggle to overcome Debrecen a fortnight ago. And with Lyon thrashing the Hungarian outsiders last night, Liverpool find themselves outside the two qualification berths for the knockout stages.

Having previously netted 24 goals in nine games this season, Liverpool couldn’t muster one. It ended a run of scoring in 21 consecutive games in the Champions League proper, leaving them one short of the record held by Bayern Munich.

The last time Liverpool lost a group game was when they went down 2-1 at Besiktas in October 2007, and last night was every bit as deflating.

Adrian Mutu, Fiorentina’s former Chelsea striker, had claimed before the game that beating Liverpool these days was no great achievement. With Benitez’s side slipping to a third defeat in 10 games this season, it’s hard to argue with the Romanian – Liverpool only lost five times in the whole of the previous campaign.

They should have known what to expect. Fiorentina had previously never lost at home nor conceded a goal to an English club, having beaten Manchester United and Everton and drawing with Arsenal.

But they had underwhelmed in their appearance in last season’s Champions League, with their last home win in the group stages coming back in March 2000 when they defeated Valencia 1-0.

While the Fiorentina supporters gave their Liverpool counterparts a warm welcome – they sang “I love Liverpool ” and unfurled a banner declaring “Welcome Reds, your story to us is a legend” – the visiting players were given no such concessions.

Benitez made one change from the team that thumped Hull City on Saturday, but it would not have been one Fiorentina were anticipating.

With Javier Mascherano hamstrung, the Argentine’s expected central midfield berth alongside Lucas Leiva was filled by the recalled Fabio Aurelio.

It didn’t work, the Brazilian duo too easily bypassed during a miserable opening 45 minutes, Liverpool barely able to get out of their own half with Fiorentina harrying them out of possession before launching a series of devastating counter-attacks.

Even before his goals, Jovetic was the main danger to the visitors, Martin Skrtel blocking a goalbound shot by the teenager who shortly afterwards dragged a 25-yard effort harmlessly wide.

In between, although Marco Marchionni was offside when striking an acrobatic overhead kick narrowly over Pepe Reina’s crossbar, it underlined the pressure being imposed on the Liverpool defence.

Marchionni should then have done better when blazing an angled volley too high after capitalising on a loose header from Skrtel, before the flimsy visiting resistance finally ended on 28 minutes.

Lucas was second best in a tackle and the ball broke to Cristiano Zanetti, who immediately slipped Jovetic through on goal. Although Mutu, sniffing around the penalty area, was in an offside position, Jovetic was played onside by Emiliano Insua, and promptly finished beyond Reina. The Liverpool goalkeeper made a fine save shortly afterwards to keep out a vicious Juan Vargas drive after the left winger was fed by Riccardo Montolivo, and Skrtel had to make a sliding block to deny Jovetic.

But the centre-back was at fault again on eight minutes before the break when Fiorentina and Jovetic doubled their tally.

Skrtel’s poor header was pounced on by Vargas, and from the resultant shot Jovetic was allowed to sneak in and prod expertly past a helpless Reina.

Liverpool needed to respond quickly after the interval and missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise barely 90 seconds in to the second half.

A probing run by Benayoun won a corner, and from Aurelio’s fine left-wing delivery Lucas contrived to send a free header over from six yards.

Dirk Kuyt stung the palms of Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey at his near post and the Dutchman was guilty of taking one touch too many touches shortly afterwards after fashioning a shooting opportunity, and Fernando Torres saw a header deflected wide.

Massimo Gobbi then had to be alert to prevent Gerrard converting from close range as Liverpool began to push Fiorentina further and further back.

Indeed, a tackle on Torres from Alessandro Gamberini was met with cheers from the home crowd almost as loud as those for the goals.

But the Fiorentina man was fortunate to escape conceding a penalty when challenging the same player shortly afterwards.

Torres then volleyed over a Skrtel right-wing cross, captain Gerrard curled a long-range effort over and looped a header narrowly over after good work by substitute Ryan Babel.

A night to forget? No.

After all, Liverpool’s season rests on remembering the shortcomings of that first half.

Viola expose Liverpool's deficiencies

By Harry Harris - ESPN Soccernet

Fernando Torres' baby faced smile was replaced with a scowl as Liverpool failed to score for the first time in two and half years in the Champions League.

Rafa Benitez looked suitably furious with the performance against Fiorentina as a Reds team that has looked so full of goals came to a grinding halt. Sorry to say this. But I did see it coming. Nevertheless, it's time for a deeper analytical assessment of Liverpool as their season is already reaching a critical point.

Despite Torres' failure to score, following his impressive hat-trick against Hull, the Spaniard remains the best centre-forward in Europe at the moment, but Liverpool's problem is that they might not be able to cope without him.

The same might apply to Chelsea with regards to Didier Drogba, but the west London club do have Nicholas Anelka, by no means as powerful as the Ivory Coast colossus, but still a proven goalscorer at the highest level with some of the best clubs in Europe, from Arsenal to Real Madrid.

Manchester City have an array of goalscoring alternatives and have hardly missed the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor. Manchester United have a couple of options, even having lost Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, but the fear for Liverpool is a long term absence for their No.9.

The Champions League shocker in Tuscany can be taken in isolation, but looking at the broader picture, it highlighted the glaring deficiencies that have been glossed over by a run of six successive wins in all competitions, including the Carling Cup.

Personally, I am one of Liverpool's greatest admirers. That has been the case for decades, for a variety of personal reasons. I have written Steve McMahon's autobiography and have a deep affection for the club having had the misfortune to be present at Hillsborough.

So, don't get me wrong. It gives me no pleasure to look at the team's deficiencies in much greater detail. And those shortcomings were there long before their unexpected demise against a sprightly Fiorentina.

I have seen this coming for a little while, though. Two defeats in the Premier League at the start of the season was too obvious to ignore.

Liverpool have been averaging three goals in English football. But the Champions League merely underlines the fact that, in the Premier League, teams are attacking more against relatively average defences, certainly defences inferior to their European counterparts.

Regrettably, Liverpool count among the Premier League clubs with inferior defences, judged of course, purely on the highest possible level, against teams with designs on winning the Champions League and indeed the Premier League.

Glen Johnson is a formidable athlete, a wonderful attacking full-back with a tremendous long range shot, but like Ashley Cole in his early Arsenal days, he has a lot to learn about defending.

Full-backs are vital for defensive strategy and with Johnson so attack-minded he offers Liverpool's opponents an area to exploit. Jamie Carragher is still one of my favourite club defenders, so influential and infectious in his desire to win for Liverpool. But time can catch up on players when they hit 30, especially in such vital areas of the pitch.

However, the main problem is the one to which I attempted to address right from the start. If Torres continues to score, then that can paper over a multitude of cracks. But no team can rely on one player. Liverpool need a second goalscorer of quality. Benitez knews this when he tried and failed with a gamble on Robbie Keane.

With such a limited transfer budget, the American owners know the club need an influx of new investment, and that might be Liverpool's long term salvation.

For now Liverpool's season hinges on their confrontation with Lyon in the Champions League and at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Benitez and his players will need their extra day in the Florence sunshine to get their heads around the problems that lie ahead.

Benitez blasts below-par Reds

Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez blasted his side's performance following the 2-0 defeat at Fiorentina in the UEFA Champions League.

The Reds were soundly beaten at Artemio Franchi as teenager Stevan Jovetic scored both goals in the first half of the Group E encounter.

Benitez's team, who won the competition in 2005, improved after half-time, with Lucas Leiva wasting a glorious headed opportunity, but there was no way back.

The former Valencia boss confessed that his team were second-best in every area of the pitch in Florence.

Benitez told Sky Sports: "We were giving the ball away, they were regaining and playing counter-attacks.

"We were not winning any second ball or challenges.

"In the second half we had chances at the start. You can see the difference in football if you take your chances, like they did in the first half.

He added: "We were disappointed, everyone was disappointed. You cannot play at this level because it is the Champions League and you know the other team is good.

Benitez did not want to blame the defeat on the absence of injured midfielder Javier Mascherano.

The Spaniard said: "We had too many problems, not just one player. We were not the best in any part of the pitch.

"If we had scored in the first minute, it would have been completely different with the way we were playing. Again, in football, if you want to win, you have to score.

He added: "I was really disappointed because we were talking a few days before.

"We knew that they were a good team and were organised and played good counter-attacks.

"We were giving the ball away all the time and giving them good chances to go behind our defenders."

Defender Jamie Carragher admitted the Reds were well beaten by Fiorentina, but is confident of bouncing back.

He said: "We didn't perform well enough, we know that. We were slightly better second half, but still not good enough."

Carragher added: "Nothing went to plan. It was a massive game for them, and a massive game for us, but they seemed to be more ready for it from the start, for whatever reason.

"It is something we have got to sort out but fortunately in the Champions League we have still got four games to put that right."

Liverpool pay heavy price
for bad start against Fiorentina

By Tony Barrett - The Times

“Welcome Reds — your story for us is a legend”, read the banner unfurled by the Fiorentina Ultras housed in the Curva Fiesole at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. If that message was one of respect for Liverpool’s past European triumphs, the one delivered by their victorious team was designed to damage the English club’s hopes of adding to their considerable achievements.

Two first-half goals by the impressive Stevan Jovetic, the Fiorentina forward, were enough to condemn Liverpool to their first loss in the group stage of the Champions League since Besiktas defeated them in Turkey two years ago, and for Rafael Benítez, their manager, the setback was born of a collective failure in mentality during a torrid opening 45 minutes that he was at a loss to explain.

“Never have I seen the team struggle as badly as they did in the first half,” Benítez said. “It was a poor performance. We had too many problems and too many mistakes, and we had to change everything. In the second half we were much better. In the first half, they were on top of us all the time and we were not doing the things that we had been talking about before the game. We were bad in everything.

“Fiorentina did a good job. They were pressing all around the pitch and we were too nervous, making mistakes, and if you make mistakes you will pay for them. The mentality was not good enough in the first half.”

A positive psychological approach was not the only thing Liverpool lacked during the opening period. Also added to the list of their failings should be an uncharacteristic lack of desire, a surprising inability to win possession in positions of importance and a disappointing helplessness when faced with the kind of adversity they have faced, and overcome, on countless occasions during Benítez’s reign.

The manager himself has had better nights. Forced into a tactical reshuffle by the enforced absence of Javier Mascherano — a player who is made for tough assignments away from home in Europe — Benítez responded by pairing Fábio Aurélio and Lucas Leiva, an all-Brazilian central midfield combination that was found wanting during that desperate first half when Fiorentina out-thought and outfought an anaemic Liverpool on far too many occasions.

Benítez, though, rejected suggestions that his decision to field Aurélio at the heart of his team lay behind their defeat. “I don’t think it was a gamble,” the Liverpool manager said. “In the second half, we improved and this means that the mentality was not good enough in the first.”

The case for the prosecution would present an altogether different case, however, and Exhibit A would be the ease with which Fiorentina bypassed Liverpool’s midfield in the build-up to their first goal. Tackles were made by Lucas and Aurélio, but neither managed to win the ball, and a failure to press successfully left their defence exposed. When Cristiano Zanetti released Jovetic through on goal, the player known as the “Montenegrin Messi” lived up to his nickname by producing a finish of no little assurance.

Jovetic had been played onside by Emiliano Insúa, the only member of Liverpool’s back four who failed to advance sufficiently as the home side launched their incursion. That Adrian Mutu, the former Chelsea player, was in an offside position but deemed not to be interfering with play at least gave Benítez the kind of convenient cause for complaint that losing managers tend to cling to when reality dictates that blame should be administered internally.

“Clearly, this new offside rule is changing everything,” Benítez said. “The best rule in football is the offside rule, but if you don’t know if a player involved is interfering, it is difficult.”

There were no such grievances to explain away Jovetic’s and Fiorentina’s second goal, however, as Liverpool were unable to recover from a weak defensive header by Martin Skrtel and Cesare Prandelli’s side took advantage. If that was the obvious low point of the Slovakian defender’s night, it typified his latest poor individual performance, which deteriorated to such an extent that on one occasion during the second half he threw his arms up in despair, a gesture that was taken as a sign of surrender by the vociferous home crowd.

Benítez insisted that Jovetic’s display had not taken him by surprise, maintaining that the scouting reports compiled on the Fiorentina squad in the build-up to last night’s game had highlighted the teenager and his ability in front of goal. But having been forewarned, Liverpool were not forearmed and their inability to cope with the threat of the 19-year-old gave them a mountain that they were unable to climb despite a muchimproved showing in the second half.

Only time will tell if Liverpool’s third defeat of the season — they suffered only five in the whole of 2008-09 — has dealt a telling blow to their hopes of making it through to the lucrative knockout stages of the Champions League, with Benítez adamant that the challenge now is the same as it was before, simply to win their next game in Europe.

But the more immediate concern for the Anfield side is how they respond to their latest setback. A meeting with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge awaits, and they go to the home of one of their title rivals in the knowledge that another domestic reversal could do untold damage to their challenge for the Barclays Premier League.

“This time it will be totally different,” Benítez said. “Hopefully, we will see a different Liverpool, the one that we saw in the second half tonight.”

A recovery of sorts in that second 45 minutes may have restored a modicum of pride, but nothing more than that. All that was left was for Prandelli to savour a victory over the manager he describes as his role model, and for the Fiorentina players to celebrate the kind of win that makes the rest of Europe sit up and take note.

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Thor Zakariassen ©