After The Match 

            


Porto-Liverpool 1-0 (0-0)              Sat July 31.            Pre-season friendly
Goals: Alberto (85)
Team: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Whitbread, Warnock, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Owen, Cisse
Subs: Pongolle, Baros, Biscan, Henchoz, Finnan, Kewell (all 45), Diao (66)
Not used:
Yellow: Hamann (31), Pongolle (72)           Pepe (66), Almeida (90)
Red: None
Referee: Silviu Kristo
Attendance: 40,078

                                                          FIXTURES & RESULTS    
TEAM STATS
Shots on target:
Shots off target:
Fouls conceded:
Corners:
Yellow:
Red:

 

 

 

HEADLINES

"I don't want
to build my team
around Michael Owen."

                  Rafael Benitez

3107: No Owen guarantees from Rafa
3107: Rafa satisfied despite Porto defeat
3107: Owen gives Cisse his seal of approval
3107: Porto see off Liverpool
 

JULY 31
No Owen guarantees from Rafa

Sporting Life

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has warned that he will not build his team around any single player.

England striker Michael Owen was thought to be a certain starter with Djibril Cisse, Milan Baros and Florent Sinama-Pongolle fighting to play alongside him.

But the demanding Spaniard has warned all his players that their place in his first 11 is not guaranteed.

"I don't want to build my team around Michael Owen," said Benitez.

"I don't want to build a team just around one player. If Michael is good then he will play but that applies to Pongolle, Cisse and Baros.

"They can play as well in the team so I want to get my team right and then decide what players will start."

Despite that, Owen has been impressed by the former Valencia manager and he is convinced they will push Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United for silverware this season.

He showed signs that he and Cisse could hit it off in the first half of Friday's 1-0 defeat to European champions Porto in the Skydome.

It was the first defeat of Benitez's Anfield reign but he and Owen were far from discouraged about the coming months.

The striker said: "There's no doubt a change in management does spur people on and gives everyone a fresh new start.

"We weren't very close to winning any of the major honours last year so I'm sure we'll be much closer this year."

Baros also caught the eye after his half-time arrival against the Portuguese outfit and he believes he can start the season in the Liverpool front line.

He said: "I had a few chances and even though I didn't score I felt that I made a good contribution and again showed the manager what I can do.

"We need a lot of competition for places and I know it's going to be difficult to get in with so many great strikers here. The manager is also going to change things around.

"But I have showed what I can do in Portugal (Euro 2004) and in the pre-season games and I know I am good enough to play for this club."

Baros' countryman Vladimir Smicer is coming to terms with the news that he will miss at least the first six months of the season after sustaining severe ligament damage.

Benitez has indicated that another player will be bought to replace him but the striker has been given him some words of encouragement.

"It is tough for Vladimir and I know him very well," said Baros.

"But he is a strong guy and will come back from this, I am confident of that."


JULY 31
Rafa satisfied despite Porto defeat

By Steve Hunter, in Toronto - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez said there were many positives he could take from Liverpool's match with Porto despite the 1-0 defeat and felt his team more than held their own against the European champions.

Benitez said he was satisfied with his team and felt Liverpool started the match strongly playing some good football and creating good openings.

Benitez said: "It was a typical pre-season match. The two teams both worked hard and both sides had opportunities to score. I thought we played better in the first 30 minutes of the first half.

"Porto are champions of Europe and a very good team and like to play quick attacking football. We wanted to try a few things and in pre-season it was always my intention to make six changes at half time. I wanted to give the other players a chance and try different things and get to know them better."

The Reds boss also had praise for the Liverpool fans in Toronto who he said helped create a great atmosphere at the Sky Dome.

"I really enjoyed the atmosphere, said Benitez. "It is good to come over here and see the supporters and make them happy and it's very good. It's very important for Liverpool to come and see the supporters in a different country."


JULY 31
Owen gives Cisse his seal of approval

By Mark Platt, in Toronto - LFC Official Website

Michael Owen is backing his new strike partner Djibril Cisse to be a big hit in the Premiership this season.

Owen lined up alongside Cisse for the first time against FC Porto in Toronto earlier today. The pair played the opening 45 minutes of Liverpool's 1-0 defeat and showed glimpses that they could form a formidable double act.

"Obviously, he's a very good player," said Owen. "To be the top goalscorer in France means you must be a more than decent player and the first signs are that he's settling in well.

"There hasn't been a competitive ball kicked yet but hopefully he can keep producing the form he has showed here in North America in the Premiership.

"I think we're different types of players. We hadn't played together in a game until tonight but in training you can see his attributes. He's very quick and can score goals. I rate him as very good player and let's hope he proves it in the Premiership."

The arrival of Cisse is another factor that could well persuade Owen to stay at Anfield. Coupled with the arrival of new manager Rafael Benitez, things are certainly looking up at Anfield and Owen agrees.

"Most people in football are very ambitious and I'm no different. I want to win the big prizes. That's always been the case with me, ever since I first started out in the game. Last year we were quite far away from winning any of the big prizes, so obviously we need to catch up a bit.

"There's no doubt a change in management does spur people on. It gives everyone that fresh new start and the players that weren't playing before are now hopeful of getting back into the team, while the players that were in the team are doing their utmost to stay there. I am sure we'll be much closer this year."

Owen again looked fresh against the Portuguese outfit and he added:
"I've had a three week break, which is more than I normally do, and I feel as fresh as I ever have done."


JULY 31
Porto see off Liverpool

BBC Sport Online

Rafael Benitez's winning start as Liverpool manager came to an end with a 1-0 defeat against Porto in Toronto.

Liverpool had looked set for a draw but Carlos Alberto scored in the 85th minute for the European champions after being left unmarked in front of goal

The Reds had their chances with Michael Owen twice going close with headers in the first half.

Their third and final game in North America comes against AS Roma in New Jersey on Tuesday.

Porto, under new coach Luigi del Neri, looked shaky at the back at the start as both Owen and Djibril Cisse caused them some nervous moments.

But the Portuguese side eventually woke up and Ricardo Quaresma hit the crossbar while Benni McCarthy also came close.

Quaresma then hit the upright in the 29th minute, sparking a goalmouth scramble, but Porto could not turn the ball in.

Both managers made changes at the break and Benitez swapped Owen and Cisse for Milan Baros and Florent Sinama-Pongolle in attack.

The Portuguese side threatened first after the break when Quaresma forced a good save out of Dudek.

Porto's tactics were frustrating Liverpool with Kewell getting a yellow card after kicking out at an opponent while Pongolle was also booked for lashing out at Rossato.

But Porto saved the best until last, taking the lead with just five minutes remaining.

The Liverpool defence were stretched as Areias' cross was allowed to come to Carlos Alberto at the back post and he had the easiest of tap-ins with Dudek exposed.


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Thor Zakariassen