Torres celebrating his 50th goal for Liverpool.
for at least a month
The Irish Times
Liverpool full back Glen Johnson has been
ruled out for “at least a month” with a medial ligament tear
in his right knee, the club have announced.
The former Portsmouth defender picked up the injury during
Tuesday’s 1-0 victory at Aston Villa.
No definitive timescale will be put on his recovery until
Johnson visits another specialist to assess the extent of
“Johnson has a problem, so he’ll see a specialist and then
we’ll talk but we know he’ll be out for at least one month,”
said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. “We are waiting for
another opinion and then we’ll know how long.”
Right back has become a troublesome position for Benitez as
Swiss international Philipp Degen has struggled to settle
after injury wrecked his first season after signing in the
summer of 2008.
The 26-year-old did not make his Premier League debut until
this September and has been unconvincing in the first team,
getting sent off in the 3-1 defeat to Fulham at the end of
Benitez’s likely option is to move Jamie Carragher from
central defence to fill a role he is not entirely
He could also give Stephen Darby, 21, an extended run in the
side while 19-year-old Martin Kelly — who made his first
start in the Champions League defeat at home to Lyon in
October — is currently sidelined with injury.
If the Liverpool boss should decide to dip into the transfer
market it is unlikely he would be looking for anything other
than a short-term loan deal.
On the positive front, Benitez is hopeful of having Albert
Riera back from a hamstring problem within the next few
“Riera will start training tomorrow, so hopefully in the
next week he can be available,” said Benitez. “Kelly and
Nabil El-Zhar still need maybe one or two weeks.”
Johnson knee damage
Liverpool have confirmed that Glen Johnson
suffered a medial ligament injury to his right knee during
Tuesday night's match at Aston Villa.
The England right-back was assessed by the club's medical
team at Melwood earlier on Wednesday and underwent a scan
which revealed the extent of the injury which forced him to
limp off after 88 minutes of the 1-0 victory at Villa Park.
A club spokesman said: "A scan today has revealed a tear in
the medial ligament in Glen's right knee.
"The player will see a specialist tomorrow, after which we
should be able to more accurately determine the length of
his rehabilitation period."
Johnson now seems certain to miss this weekend's FA Cup trip
to Reading and the crucial Anfield visit of Tottenham on 10
The 25-year-old has suffered a number of injuries in the
first season of his Liverpool career and underwent the
controversial horse placenta treatment on a hamstring
problem earlier in the campaign.
tribute to Torres
By Dominic King - Liverpool Echo
Jamie Carragher today paid a glowing
tribute to Fernando Torres after the record breaking striker
helped Liverpool make a Champions League statement.
Torres, as he has done so often during his Anfield career,
came up trumps just when it was needed, on this occasion his
injury time goal gave the Reds a precious 1-0 win over Aston
Villa at Villa Park.
It was his 50th Premier League goal in just 72 outings and
smashed a long-standing record held jointly by Sam Raybould
and Albert Stubbins.
But, more importantly, it helped revive Liverpool’s flagging
campaign and gave them back-to-back wins for the first time
since September to leave them just three points off
Now Carragher is hoping Liverpool will take impetus from
this result and put together a sequence of results that will
carry them back into a more familiar position in the table.
“There is nothing better than getting a last minute winner,”
said Carragher. “You could see how much it meant to everyone
but we have just got to move on now.
“Hopefully it will put us on a good run.
“There are a lot of teams who are looking at us and thinking
they can take our place in the top four.
“But this was more than just three points. It’s made a
“Villa are a top team with a top manager and it’s a
difficult place to come but we controlled the game.
“Fernando is a great player, a world class striker. To beat
people like Ian Rush, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Roger
Hunt to the record says everything. That’s why you pay the
kind of money we did to sign him, to score last-minute goals
Carragher, Daniel Agger and Pepe Reina all excelled in
helping the Reds keep another clean sheet but he knows more
of the same will be needed when they return to Premier
League action against Spurs on January 10.
“One game can make a difference,” he said. “We realise what
would have happened had we lost, people would have said we
were miles behind and that would have been it for the top
four. But we’ve given ourselves a fighting chance.
“I haven’t been looking at the league table as I didn’t want
to depress myself but hopefully we are moving up in the
right direction now. The next game is Tottenham and if we
can win that, it will put us right in the mix.”
O'Neill: We should have won
By Elliot Ball - Sky Sports
Martin O'Neill lamented Aston Villa's
injury-time defeat to Liverpool, claiming his side would
have won but for the goalkeeping heroics of Jose Reina.
The Villa boss had his head in his hands in the third minute
of added time as Fernando Torres became Liverpool's fastest
player to score 50 goals in the Premier League as the Reds
claimed a 1-0 win on Tuesday night.
The result gave the Merseysiders a crucial boost in their
quest for UEFA Champions League football while putting a
serious dent into Villa's hopes of a top-four finish.
Liverpool had not lost at Villa Park since February 1998 and
that record continued largely thanks to their resolute
defence and an inspired Reina, who produced a number of
crucial saves to keep the visitors in the game.
Reina made a stupendous reaction stop to deny Stewart
Downing in the first half before also saving a close-range
effort from Gabriel Agbonlahor, and O'Neill was quick to
point out the Reds shot-stopper as the stand-out performer
on the night.
"We definitely didn't deserve that," the Villa boss, who saw
his side lose at home for the first time since the opening
game of the season, told Sky Sports 1. "At the end we should
have had the game out of sight.
"Their goalkeeper has pulled off some unbelievable saves
tonight and kept them in it. We should have won and we lost.
"We had chances to win the game but we didn't deserve to
lose the match and it's a real cruel blow to the team but
we'll fight back."
The result is Villa's second successive defeat after the 3-0
loss at Arsenal and has halted the West Midlanders' momentum
towards a coveted Champions League berth.
O'Neill admitted the atmosphere had taken a sour turn after
their fifth reverse of the campaign, but insisted his side
will come back strong after a disappointing end to 2009.
"I don't think it's any damage to confidence if we can keep
performing," he added. "We've given everything and we've
played two games in 48 hours.
"It's definitely a blow because we have lost two games over
Christmas and we should have picked up three points tonight.
"It's not the end of the world, it is a setback, but we will
fight back from this make no mistake."
rallying call to Liverpool
Steven Gerrard called on Liverpool to go
on to bigger and better things after they snatched an
1-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
Fernando Torres scored in the third minute of stoppage time
after the ball fortuitously broke to him in the box to
settle a clash at Villa Park which had appeared to be
heading for stalemate.
"That's what football's about," Gerrard told Sky Sports 1
after Tuesday night's defeat. "You've got to keep going
until the end and when you've got guys like (Torres) there's
always a chance.
"When he's on form he's the best in the world.
"We're hoping it gives us a big boost. The idea now is to
treat the next game like tonight. This means nothing. It all
depends where you are at the end.
"It's important to build on this. I'm sure we'll gain a lot
of confidence from this and there's no excuses now.
"We've got to win games."
The win took Liverpool to within two points of their
opponents and four of Tottenham in fourth, the final
Champions League place.
Gerrard said: "It'll be a race until the very end and we've
got to make sure we're in it."
Torres added: "We needed to win to be close to the top four.
It was a massive game for us.
"Last season we kept working until the end and got points in
extra time, like today."
Benitez shock at reaction
By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez angrily
explained his surprise at the reaction to his guarantee of a
place in the top four of the Premier League this season.
The Reds boss saw his side grab a dramatically late victory
at Aston Villa on Tuesday as Fernando Torres added another
twist to the race for UEFA Champions League football with
his 50th English league goal coming deep into stoppage time.
A narrow 1-0 win moved Liverpool to seventh position in the
table and the Merseysiders now sit just two points behind
Villa and four points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham, who
travel to Anfield on 10th January.
The win came as a major feather in the cap for Benitez, who
has maintained throughout the campaign that his
under-performing side will qualify for 2010/11's European
Cup, and so he was shocked when his promise was questioned
His reaction was not on a par to last season's infamous
'Rafa rant', but it was almost as cold as a snowy night in
the Midlands, as he told Sky Sports 1: "The manager has to
have confidence in his team so he has to say that we will
finish in the top four.
"I have to be the first one to believe so they (the players)
"I was really pleased because we couldn't give something to
our fans when we played against Portsmouth so I am really
pleased for them because it was bad weather and I think that
they will come back to Liverpool and enjoy today."
When pushed further on his guarantee of a place in the top
four, he said: "What do you have to do? As a manager of the
team you have to believe in the players.
"I was really surprised a lot of people are talking about it
like, 'oh Rafa is taking the pressure off his players'. You
have to do it like this because I am the manager."
When asked about suggestions he would resign if Liverpool do
not qualify for the Champions League, he said: "I don't see
any journalist making a mistake and resigning, so every time
that you ask me the same, I will ask you the same."
Torres still did not appear to be at full fitness following
his long-standing groin injury, but Benitez was in no doubt
regarding the predatory brilliance of his record signing.
The Liverpool boss said: "He is a very, very good player, a
key player for us. His record is amazing so I am very
pleased for him and very pleased for the team."
Liverpool's night was shadowed by a knee injury suffered by
Glen Johnson in the second half at Villa Park and the
England international is set to undergo further analysis.
Benitez said: "We know now that we have to do a scan. Maybe
he has a problem with his knee."
fires Reds revival
Fernando Torres scored his 50th Premier
League goal in injury time as Liverpool beat Aston Villa 1-0
in Tuesday's clash at a snowy Villa Park.
The result gave Rafael Benitez's side a Champions League
lifeline as they began the second half of their season by
snatching a valuable three points in Birmingham.
Spain international striker Torres drilled a low shot across
Villa keeper Brad Friedel in the 93rd minute to become the
fastest player in Reds history to score a half century of
It means Benitez's side are only two points behind Villa and
four adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham in the race for
In a goalless first half, it needed a fine save from Brad
Friedel to deny Liverpool after 17 minutes.
Torres teed up Steven Gerrard just outside the Villa area
and his curling first time shot was tipped over the bar by
the former Liverpool keeper.
Current Reds number one Pepe Reina somehow managed to keep
out a fierce close-range volley from Stewart Downing in the
Glen Johnson needlessly gave a corner away after losing
possession to John Carew 15 yards from the by-line.
James Milner's corner was net at the far post by Downing and
he could not have struck his volley more cleanly, but Reina
somehow managed to fist away his shot from close range.
Liverpool, unbeaten at Villa Park since February 1998,
enjoyed the majority of possession for most of the second
period without seriously threatening the home goal.
However, the Reds proceed to waste several good openings,
failing to test Friedel significantly - and were almost
Villa suddenly came to life with Reina producing his second
excellent save of the night to deny Agbonlahor after he had
shaken off the challenge of Jamie Carragher.
And from Milner's inswinging centre, Carew was inches wide
of the far post with a flicked header.
The match seemed to be heading for stalemate until, in
injury time, Dirk Kuyt took control of a poor pass from
Stephen Warnock on the right flank.
The ball was collected by Benayoun in midfield but as
Agbonlahor came back to tackle, the Villa striker only
succeeded in pushing it through to Torres inside the Villa
box and he slid a low shot into the bottom far corner of
The result keeps Villa sixth, two points behind
fourth-placed Tottenham, while Liverpool rise to seventh,
two points further back.