Rafa facing crisis
Djibril Cisse's leg-break horror has left Rafael
Benitez facing a severe striker crisis ahead of
Wednesday night's crucial Champions League showdown with
Deportivo La Coruna.
Cisse had surgery to pin his tibia back together on
Sunday after fracturing his shin in two places following
a seemingly innocuous tangle with Blackburn's Jay
McEveley during the Premiership draw at Ewood Park.
The injury left Liverpool's £14million record signing
screaming in agony as he was carried of on a stretcher
and taken to hospital.
And while early comparisons with the incident that saw
David Busst's career ended at Old Trafford in 1996 may
have been over the top, Cisse will almost certainly miss
the remainder of the current campaign and possibly the
start of next season as well.
It leaves the Reds' squad chronically short of forwards
and while the problem can be addressed on a long-term
basis when the transfer window opens in January - Real
Madrid's Fernando Morientes and Miguel Mista, who played
under Benitez at both Tenerife and Valencia, have
already been mentioned as potential targets - the
immediate future looks bleak.
Without Cisse, the only forwards on Liverpool's books
are the erratic Milan Baros, Neil Mellor, who has yet to
prove he is up to the level demanded at Anfield, and
20-year-old Frenchman Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who may
not be fit for the midweek trip to Spain.
Cisse's injury drama ended with a broken leg.
Sinama-Pongolle missed last night's game after suffering
heavy bruising to his shin and calf in the midweek
Carling Cup win at Millwall and if he has not recovered,
Benitez will be forced to play Baros as a lone front man
in the Riazor Stadium, with Luis Garcia operating just
Given Liverpool need a victory to leapfrog back into the
top two slots in Group A, it is not the position Benitez
would have wanted to find himself in, although at the
moment the Reds are concentrating their efforts on
making sure Cisse is given the best possible chance of
"We were all sick when we heard what had happened,"
admitted Reds defender Jamie Carragher.
"We can only extend our best wishes to Djibril and hope
he recovers quickly."
The incident completely overshadowed an entertaining
game which allowed Blackburn to scramble off the foot of
the table - at least until Norwich visit Manchester City
on Monday - but did little to enhance Liverpool's
reputation as credible title challengers.
Having gone in front through John Arne Riise's excellent
finish inside seven minutes, the visitors failed to
maintain their momentum.
Bothroyd levelled with his first Rovers goal after being
set up by Brett Emerton before a period of woeful Reds'
defending ended with Sami Hyypia rolling the ball to
Emerton, who gleefully put the hosts ahead in first-half
Baros took advantage of a major blunder by McEveley, who
otherwise impressed on his first Premiership appearance
for 18 months, to bring Liverpool back on terms but
though the visitors pushed forward looking for a winner,
it was actually Blackburn who looked more like getting
"We started well but once we got the goal, we seemed a
little bit flat," admitted a bemused Benitez.
"We must learn to concentrate more when we are in front
and we cannot afford to concede the kind of goal we did
at the end of the first-half."
For Blackburn boss Mark Hughes, whose side had suffered
successive four-goal reverses, the result was a sign
that more positive times are not far away.
The former Wales chief was eager to point out that
though his team's league position remains dire, Rovers
have now faced all the Premiership's big guns and a
November fixture list that starts with a crucial trip to
Norwich next Saturday, then takes in clashes with
Manchester City, Birmingham and Fulham should hardly be
viewed with fear.
"Some people have conveniently overlooked the opposition
we have played so far this season," said Hughes.
"We are not happy to be in this position but there are
genuine reasons for it.
"Now we are going into a period where we are playing
teams we can have a good go at and I feel we definitely
have the opportunity to start picking up points and
improving our situation."
Baros saddened by
Milan Baros and the rest of the Liverpool squad have
commiserated with striker Djibril Cisse after the
Frenchman's injury shocker at Ewood.
An early strike from John Arne Riise put the visitors
ahead at Blackburn on Saturday evening but goals from
Jay Bothroyd and Brett Emerton put Rovers in front at
Czech Republic striker Baros capped a fine performance
by scoring the equaliser early in the second-half but
his strike-partner Cisse was carried off with a
suspected broken leg after 38 minutes.
Baros said: "I heard something and I thought it was
broken. It is a shame and hopefully he'll get back soon.
"I wish him all the best because I know what it's like
to be out with a broken leg."
Baros broke his ankle on the same ground last season and
was out for five months. He now faces leading the
Liverpool attack on his own, although he believes his
team-mates can contribute goals.
"We'll just have one striker probably but Harry Kewell
can play up front, Luis Garcia can play up front so we
have a good squad and hopefully we can replace him
"In the end it was a good game and we're happy with a
"I had a chance in the first few minutes and it was a
shame we could not keep a clean sheet in the first
disappointed with point
By Patrick Goss - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was disappointed to only
get a point against Blackburn.
Benitez did not want to talk about a nasty looking
injury to Djibril Cisse until he knew the extent of the
striker's problem - but praised his team for periods of
high tempo play.
"We are disappointed because we started with a high temp
and scored an early goal - and also in the second half
we played some nice stuff," said Benitez.
"We controlled the game, kept the ball and had many
"They had a good game as well. They ran lot and fought
for every ball. Both teams had opportunities.
"We are thinking only about our games and if we can play
like we did for twenty minutes in the second half then I
will be happy."
Cisse injury sours draw
By Patrick Goss - Sky Sports
A horrific injury to Liverpool's Djibril Cisse cast a
shadow over an entertaining, if bad-tempered, 2-2 draw
against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
Cisse was stretchered off in agony with a suspected
broken leg, in a game that saw both teams lead and have
chances to win it.
An early goal from John Arne Riise was cancelled out by
Jay Bothroyd's first for Blackburn, and Rovers took
advantage of Liverpool's shock at Cisse's injury to grab
the lead through the hugely impressive Brett Emerton in
first half injury time.
However, a second half equaliser by Milan Baros earned a
share of the points - with both goalkeeper making
crucial saves to limit the scoring further.
The Reds had started confidently and should have taken
the lead when Cisse put Baros through, only for the
Czech star to delay and allow Brad Friedel to race out
and make a crucial intervention.
But with just five minutes on the clock, Liverpool did
get the opener when Blackburn's woeful defending left
Too be fair it took a raking diagonal ball of great
quality form Xabi Alonso to pick out Riise, but he then
had an age to pick out a low shot across Friedel and
into the back of the net.
Blackburn fans must have feared that the floodgates
would open following two drubbings in heir last two
games - but to their credit the players bit in and
Emerton's influence shoehorned them back into the game.
Barry Ferguson released the Australian into space on the
left and he picked out a perfect low centre to allow
Bothroyd to side-foot home and open his account for the
Cisse's injury then changed the mood of the match
completely - and Rovers took advantage of their shocked
opponents' weak defending to take the lead.
Sami Hyypia failed to clear from the centre of the box
after Paul Dickov had bullied his way through, and the
ball dropped invitingly for Emerton who curled home
brilliantly into the bottom corner across the helpless
Mark Hughes must have urged his side to keep their
concentration in the early staged of the second half -
but a dreadful error by young full back James McEveley
gave The Reds a crucial route back into the game.
The defender took a free-kick without looking and gave
the ball straight to Luis Garcia.
The Spaniard picked out a fine pass to put Baros through
and he made no mistake with a fine finish past Friedel.
As tackles started to fly in Tugay in particular was
lucky to stay on the pitch with a succession of niggling
fouls and nasty high challenges.
Kirkland had to be alert to keep out sub Jonathan
Stead's rising drive and also denied Craig Short from a
The Liverpool custodian then did superbly to race out
and block a close range Dickov effort , but it was by no
means one way traffic.
At the other end Friedel did superbly to deny Riise a
second and Harry Kewell began to exert an increasing
influence in the latter stages.
But the focus will be on yet another serious injury for
Liverpool at this ground.
Jamie Carragher and Baros have both suffered major
injuries at Ewood Park - and it now appears Cisse has
joined that unfortunate list.