reaction has been superb
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has rated the team's
reaction to manager Rafael Benitez’s tirade last week as
The Reds went out on Monday night and hammered Portsmouth
4-1 in the league before turning a one-goal deficit into a
3-1 win on aggregate in the Europa League Round of 16
And the Reds captain was delighted with how the players were
able to react from stinging criticism from their boss.
"He (Benitez) is the manager and he's allowed to criticise
the team at the right time but I think the reaction over the
last two games has been superb and the plan is to maintain
it on Sunday against Man United,” Gerrard told Five.
"It was vital this game didn't go to extra-time tonight.
"We know how difficult it (Sunday) is going to be. We'll
enjoy tonight and we'll get a warm-down tomorrow and we'll
look forward to Sunday."
Deadly duo drive
Liverpool to victory
Liverpool kept alive their hopes of silverware this season
with a 3-0 victory over Lille at Anfield to win their Europa
League last-16 tie 3-1 on aggregate.
Captain Steven Gerrard’s ninth-minute penalty gave them the
ideal start, after Lucas Leiva had been fouled.
Fernando Torres then struck twice in the second half – his
first European goals for more than 11 months – to put his
side into the quarter-finals.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg an early Liverpool goal was
essential to ease the pressure and, watched by Argentina
coach Diego Maradona, they
produced just that.
Two changes for Reds
Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva return as Liverpool look to
overturn a 1-0 deficit at home to Lille for a place in the
Europa League last eight.
Maxi Rodriguez, who is ineligible, and Alberto Aquilani, who
has a virus,
The Liverpool team in full: Reina, Insua, Carragher, Agger,
Johnson, Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Babel, Gerrard, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Benayoun, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Degen, El Zhar,
(LFC Official Website)
Giggs: Reds out to get revenge
Ryan Giggs could return for Manchester United against
Liverpool - and last season's 4-1 defeat will be running
through his mind if he does.
This season Rafa Benitez's troops are well off the pace and
are battling just to secure another season of Champions
League football, but there is just as much at stake for the
And Giggs, who could make his comeback from a broken arm
wearing a lightweight cast, is keen to make amends for last
He told Sky Sports News: "We didn't play well here last year
against Liverpool and they deserved the victory. Hopefully
that won't be the same this week."
Riera banned for Rafa remarks
Liverpool winger Albert Riera has been suspended by the club
for his outspoken attack on manager Rafael Benitez and the
The Spain international has been disciplined by Benitez and
told not to return to the Merseysiders' Melwood training
ground until Monday, it is understood.
Riera launched a critical broadside at Benitez, claiming he
did not speak to him, and described Liverpool as a "sinking
Benitez is believed to be fuming about the timing of the
interview, which was broadcast less than 24 hours before the
crucial Europa League last-16 second leg at home to Lille,
and has taken swift action to discipline the player.
(PA Sport/Sporting Life)
Hamann hammers Riera for Rafa rant
Dietmar Hamann has hit out at Liverpool winger Albert Riera
after he went public with his frustrations with manager
The Spain international said Benitez did not speak to him
and claimed he bore a personal grudge.
However Hamann, who made 283 appearances for the
Merseysiders and memorably came on for the second half in
their Champions League final comeback against AC Milan in
2005, said Riera should look at himself.
"I didn't read too much into the comments because he's a
player who has not played too much football over the last
six to eight months," said the former Germany international.
"He is clearly frustrated but you have to say since he
signed for Liverpool (in September 2008) he has not done
enough to really have an opinion
on the manager.
"If Riera is not in the team it is probably because he is
not doing enough in training or in games.
"The first question you have to ask when you are not playing
is have you done enough to be in the team.
Hamann, who does some part-time coaching for Liverpool's
youth teams, admitted Benitez had his own individual style
of management but said he did not have an issue with it
during his two seasons under the Spaniard.
"Every manager has his different styles and he may not talk,
as other managers do, to his players but at the end of the
day I always had a professional relationship with him," he
"Every player is different and he does speak to players. If
he didn't speak to Riera on this particular occasion there
must have been a reason."
Torres named as
Chelsea`s number one target
Fernando Torres is being touted as Chelsea's number one
transfer target as Fleet Street predicts a comprehensive
revamp of the club's first-team squad following their
ignominious Champions League exit.
"Ancelotti may thus be able to consider moves for
long-standing targets such as Fernando Torres, Franck Ribéry
or Sergio Agüero," reports The Guardian.
Gillett and Hicks given
three weeks to accept £100m deal
Liverpool's American owners are under more financial
pressure to settle their debts than has previously been
thought, with the New York-based company bidding to take
control of the club imposing a three-week deadline to take
or leave their offer.
The Rhone Group's proposed £100m investment for a 40pc share
would enable the Liverpool chief executive, Christian
Purslow, to deliver the entire sum to the Royal Bank of
Scotland, the club's bankers, to pay down £100m of debt as
the bank has demanded.
However, the time pressures the club currently faces are
also compounded by the fact that Liverpool appear to have
just 20 days to deliver some of that £100m figure to the
Riera wants to leave Liverpool
after falling out with Benítez
Albert Riera has indicated that he wants to leave Liverpool
after revealing that his relationship with Rafael Benítez
has deteriorated to the point where he thinks the manager
has something against him.
In an outspoken attack on Benítez, Riera said the manager
"turns a deaf ear" to his players and described Liverpool as
a "sinking ship". He also questioned whether his fellow
Spaniard was suited to the Real Madrid job because his style
of football is not attractive enough.
Riera said he was not alone in having communication problems
with Benítez. "He thinks he is in charge and he just turns a
deaf ear to everyone else," he told Radio Marca in Spain.
"The dialogue with the players is practically non-existent.
There is a lack of tact."
Asked about Benítez's credentials for Madrid, where Manuel
Pellegrini is not expected to be in charge next season,
Riera said: "At Madrid they ask you to win and play lovely
football. We are effective, sure, but we don't play
Lille unfazed by Anfield atmosphere
Lille coach Rudi Garcia is confident his players will not be
over-awed when they run out at Anfield for their Europa
League last-16 second leg.
Lille take a 1-0 lead into the game against Liverpool
courtesy of Eden Hazard's late free-kick in France last
And Garcia is confident his players will cope with a big
European night on Merseyside, as they did in the previous
round when they travelled to Fenerbahce for the second leg.
"We know we are playing against a legendary side in a very
atmospheric - almost mythical - stadium of legends but we
have experienced this against Fenerbahce away from home.
"It doesn't really matter what Liverpool think it is what is
in our mind that counts."
Benitez calls for tactical change
Rafa Benitez has told Liverpool that Lille will provide a
stern test when the Frenchmen arrive for their Europa League
last-16 second leg tie.
The French club hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg and
present a completely different challenge to that of the
Premier League's bottom club.
It is unlikely, therefore, Benitez's team selection will be
as attacking as it was against Pompey, although one
consideration may be the fitness of man of the match Alberto
Aquilani who missed training on Wednesday through sickness.
"On Monday we could see the football the side can play and
hopefully we can see that against Lille, although it will be
difficult," said Benitez.
"We have to make sure we do the right things: score, keep a
clean sheet and do good football things."
Aquilani struggling for Lille crunch
Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani is a doubt for
Thursday's Europa League last-16 second leg at home to Lille
after picking up an illness.
The Italy international, who was man of the match in
Monday's 4-1 Premier League win over Portsmouth, missed
training on Wednesday and will be assessed on Thursday
Fellow midfielder Maxi Rodriguez drops out of the squad as
he is ineligible for European competition but defenders
Martin Skrtel (foot) and Fabio Aurelio (thigh) are Rafael
Benitez's only other absentees.
Reds (from): Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Krygiakos,
Insua, Gerrard, Mascherano, Lucas, Aquilani, Riera, Ngog,
Kuyt, Torres, Benayoun, Cavalieri, Pacheco, Spearing, Babel,
Reina close to new deal
Pepe Reina has confirmed he is close to signing a new deal
The goalkeeper has been in negotiations to extend his Reds
stay and revealed he expects a deal to be concluded within
"I am really close," Reina told reporters at Anfield. "You
will find out more in the next few weeks or month.
"I am happy here, I think the club is happy with me too and
I see no problem at all in signing a new deal. It is a
matter of time and I will sort it out in a few weeks. We are
(LFC Official Website)
Man remanded over robbery
at Steven Gerrard's home
A 22-year-old man has appeared in court accused of taking
part in a robbery at Liverpool and England footballer Steven
Mr Gerrard's wife Alex Curran, 27, was confronted by four
masked raiders at home in Formby, Merseyside, in 2007.
Martin Wilson, of Hollowcroft, Stockbridge Village, is
charged with burglary and robbery. He did not enter a plea
at Liverpool Crown Court.
Mr Wilson, 22, was remanded in custody until 16 April.
His three-day trial is due to begin in June.
The robbers struck while the midfielder, 29, was playing in
Liverpool's Champions League tie away to Marseille.
(BBC Sport Online)
Fletcher: Liverpool not a poor team
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher expects
Liverpool to raise their game when they visit Old Trafford
Despite beating Portsmouth at home on Monday, Rafael
Benitez's side have endured a frustrating campaign.
After finishing second last season they are now chasing
fourth place in the table rather than the title.
Liverpool lie 15 points adrift of league leaders United but
will be comforted by the 4-1 victory at Old Trafford a year
And Fletcher, 25, says they will have to be on their guard.
"It would be very dangerous to think this is a poor
Liverpool side coming to Old Trafford because they are
anything but," he told the Manchester Evening News.
"It would be a huge mistake to think that Liverpool are not
a threat. They maybe haven't had the season we expected
after last year but they are still
a dangerous side.
"They are still in the main the same team. We know what they
are capable of and pushed us all the way and dished out that
defeat here and the one at Anfield this season. They are
still fresh in our memories.
"Liverpool still have a lot to play for because they are
battling for fourth spot. They are capable of beating
"We have to learn the lessons from last year's game. The
warnings are there. If you are not 100% focused and you make
mistakes they will punish you.
"It is a real surprise to me they haven't been up with us.
But they will still be fired up to win at Old Trafford
Going on the attack with
Aquilani paid off for Benitez
Monday night’s impressive demolition of Portsmouth at
Anfield was the ideal start to a crucial week for Liverpool.
It was so pleasing to see us play the kind of attacking
football that has been lacking in recent months.
It was a special night for Alberto Aquilani, who scored his
first goal for the Reds in front of the Kop.
The Italian has had a tough first season with the Reds
following his move from Roma, but he will be relieved to be
off the mark and he deserved his goal because he performed
Aquilani got his chance in place of Lucas in midfield and it
worked well with Javier Mascherano alongside him.
There’s no doubt the balance of the side was right for that
His passing was good and he was always looking to move the
ball forward when too often in recent matches it’s gone
(Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo)
FA take no action against Gerrard
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard will not face action from
the FA following his clash with Portsmouth midfielder
Michael Brown on Monday night.
It is understood the FA sought clarification from referee
Stuart Attwell after Gerrard appeared to catch Brown with
his forearm during the 4-1 win for Rafael Benitez's men at
Attwell saw the incident at the time and spoke to Gerrard
after awarding Pompey a free-kick, with the FA following
guidelines not to punish players retrospectively if the
match official sees the alleged offence.
Gerrard escaped punishment from the FA last week after
apparently making a two-fingered gesture to referee Andre
Marriner during Liverpool's 1-0 defeat away to Wigan.
Babel wants Anfield stay
Liverpool winger Ryan Babel is delighted to have earned a
run in the side and insists his future belongs at Anfield.
Babel scored in the Reds' 4-1 win over Portsmouth on Monday
night in what was his fourth start in six consecutive games
in Rafa Benitez's side.
Speculation linking the 23-year-old with a return to his
homeland mounts each transfer window, but Babel now has
fresh hopes of a bright future at Liverpool.
"I was always happy at Liverpool," Babel told the club's
"Slowly I'm feeling stronger. Hopefully now I can continue
to get stronger. With every game you'll start to see the
best of me."
Aquilani proud of goal
Alberto Aquilani was pleased with his goal yesterday.
The Italian international scored his first Liverpool goal,
at the Kop end, in yesterday's 4-1 hammering of Portsmouth.
It was a proud moment
for the midfielder.
"I feel really good because I've scored my first goal after
a really long time. I'm also really happy because of the
result - we needed that," said Aquilani.
"The goal is even more special because I scored it in front
of the Kop. I said when I arrived in Liverpool that I wanted
to score in front of the Kop and that moment has arrived.
"I think I played well but I have to take it step by step.
Today was a good day and now we look to the next game.
"Above all, the big thing was that we played well and won.
We have to take things step by step now. We can only think
about Sunday after Thursday.
"Can I do better? Everyone can do better. Fernando made
things easy. He is a special player, you easily play with
him and Stevie."
Lawrenson: Benitez must
be shown the door
Liverpool FC legend Mark Lawrenson believes Rafa Benitez’s
six year tenure at Anfield should come to an end after this
season even if the club finish inside the Premier League’s
The former Anfield stalwart suggests Liverpool FC have gone
backwards under Rafa Benitez, and the Spaniard’s record in
the transfer market, particular those in the £10 million
bracket, has been poor.
The Liverpool FC hero told Mirrorfootball.co.uk: “Rafa
Benitez must be shown the door at Liverpool at the end of
“It is time for change and the Spaniard should go, even if
Liverpool somehow manage to finish in the top four.”
“Benitez has had six years at Anfield and, if anything, the
club has gone backwards during his reign.”
“Just compare the Liverpool side that lost to Wigan and now
Lille to Gerard Houllier’s team in his final game in charge,
a 1-1 draw with Newcastle
in May 2004.”
“This was the final line-up: Dudek, Finnan, Carragher,
Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Heskey,
Owen. You cannot tell me that team, that squad of players,
would not have beaten the Liverpool team which lost at
Wigan. So, in six years in charge, Benitez has gone
Rafa sure Gerrard will escape rap
Rafael Benitez is confident Steven Gerrard will escape
retrospective action for a clash with Michael Brown in
Liverpool's win over Portsmouth.
Fernando Torres scored his 14th and 15th goals in the
Premier League this season with Ryan Babel and Alberto
Aquilani - registering his first goal for the Reds - also on
target before Nadir Belhadj's late consolation.
The 4-1 victory at Anfield was overshadowed slightly by
Gerrard's apparent forearm to the back of Brown's neck in
the second half, after which the Liverpool captain was
immediately substituted by Reds boss Benitez.
"I don't think so," said the Spaniard when asked if he was
worried about retrospective action against his captain.
"I haven't seen it but I was asking and I think it was