Rafa frustrated by Rovers
Rafa Benitez was left clearly frustrated at Blackburn's
robust style of play as his Liverpool side recorded a narrow
2-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.
"We had to win and we won," he stated.
"We won and that is the most important thing. I don't know
but I was really surprised that it was just five (bookings
"It doesn't matter - we won."
Big Sam: We lack firepower
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce bemoaned his side's lack of
firepower as his side lost 2-1 to Liverpool at Anfield on
Rovers enjoyed plenty of possession on Merseyside but failed
to capitalise on the numerous chances that they created.
"If we had a goalscorer we would have won, it is that
simple," he said.
"Chances came and went and we didn't convert them and
unusually we had more chances than Liverpool today."
Torres on target as Reds win
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres marked his first start
since January 13 by scoring the winner in an ill-tempered
2-1 victory over Blackburn at Anfield.
The Spain international hit his 13th goal in 17 Barclays
Premier League appearances just before half-time, having
missed five weeks at the start of the year after a knee
Liverpool had gone ahead midway through the half through
Steven Gerrard only for Jamie Carragher's handball to allow
Keith Andrews to equalise from the penalty spot five minutes
before the interval.
With fellow top-four challengers Tottenham and Manchester
City both winning this weekend, it was imperative Rafael
Benitez's side maintained the pressure - and they managed to
grind out a win against combative opponents.
Fernando Torres starts for Liverpool against Blackburn this
The absence of Soto Kyrgiakos and Martin Skrtel means Jamie
Carragher returns to centre-back, with Javier Mascherano
playing at right-back.
The Reds XI: Reina, Mascherano, Aurelio, Agger, Carragher,
Lucas, Gerrard, Benayoun, Kuyt, Rodriguez, Torres.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Babel, Insua, Ngog, Kelly, Ayala.
(LFC Official Website)
Gerrard: Capello is Fab coach
Steven Gerrard has hailed Fabio Capello's calming influence
and claims that he has restored the players' belief in their
In recent years, the so-called 'golden generation' of
England stars have felt the nation's high expectations weigh
heavily on their shoulders, which was compounded by the
national side failing to qualify for Euro 2008 under
According to the Liverpool skipper, the introduction of
former Real Madrid coach Capello has rejuvenated a squad
that was often afraid to express itself at Wembley because
of the pressure to perform.
Gerrard admitted that he was one of the players most
affected by supporters' expectations, but is ready to lead
his side out against Egypt in a friendly
"I can certainly say I experienced fear when I went out to
perform," Gerrard told the News of the World.
"The pressure from supporters always transmitted itself on
to the pitch.
"It's always an honour to wear an England shirt but you only
had to see some of the performances, myself included, to see
it could also be a burden.
"There was a lot of fear out there, it was difficult to play
and we made hard work out of the fixtures we should have
won. Fabio Capello has got rid of all that. The shackles are
off and we play without fear now."
Gerrard in England squad
Steven Gerrard has been named in the England squad.
Gerrard, England's new vice-captain, has been named in Fabio
Capello's squad for this Wednesday's friendly with Egypt.
Reds sign starlet Sterling from QPR
Liverpool have signed highly-rated England youth
international Raheem Sterling from Championship side QPR for
an undisclosed fee
The 15-year-old attacking midfielder, who was also
attracting interest from Manchester United, Manchester City,
Arsenal and Fulham, will join the club's academy in Kirkby.
"The success of our academy is vital to the future progress
of the club and we have made clear that we will invest in
outstanding young talent," said Liverpool managing director
"Raheem is a very exciting young English player whose
progress was being closely monitored by many other leading
clubs and I'm delighted he's joining us.
"Frank McParland (academy director) and his staff have done
a great job in bringing him to Liverpool."
Allardyce: Reds have gone physical
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce thinks Liverpool have
adopted the same physical style which Reds boss Rafael
Benitez used to criticise his old club Bolton for.
Allardyce claims the Spaniard sent a DVD of what he saw as
Bolton's rough play to referees' chief Keith Hackett, but
now sees elements of that same physical approach in
Liverpool's play as they bid to salvage their season and
qualify for next season's Champions League.
Allardyce, whose Rovers side face Liverpool at Anfield on
Sunday, told the Daily Mirror: "(Benitez) has used all that
stuff that he says he doesn't like. It's ironic isn't it?
"They have had to go back to basics and the pretty stuff
goes out the window until you start winning matches.
"I watched them play at Manchester City and they got six
players booked, so it shows he's brought the physical side
out in them."
Rafa ready to keep momentum going
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez
wants his side to build on Thursday's Europa League away
A 3-1 win against Unirea Urziceni was the first time since
late September the Reds had scored more than twice in a
Having experienced defeat at Arsenal and a frustrating
goalless draw at Manchester City last weekend Benitez is
keen not to lose momentum again.
"We see the Europa League as very important and we will try
to progress and hopefully it will be good for this weekend's
match against Blackburn," said the Spaniard ahead of Rovers'
visit to Anfield on Sunday.
"Always it is important that when you win you have more
confidence and it is easier for the manager to send messages
and easier for the players to try things.
"I think we need to show we want to progress."
Liverpool confirm Skrtel
has broken foot
The Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez has confirmed that his
central defender Martin Skrtel has a broken foot.
The Slovakian centre-back was injured last night when
Liverpool beat Unirea Urziceni 3-1 to reach the last 16 of
the Europa League.
X-rays at the club's Melwood training ground today have
confirmed Skrtel has fractured a metatarsal in his right
"We were really disappointed after the game because it was a
good result but then we had the bad news about Martin," said
the Liverpool manager.
"He's had X-rays today and they confirmed he has a broken
metatarsal. We have to check over the next couple of days
how long it will take to recover."
Skrtel's absence, however long or short it turns out to be,
comes just as Benítez thought he finally had a full-strength
squad with which to tackle their remaining 11 matches as
they bid to secure Champions League football next season.
Skrtel sidelined for Rovers clash
Defender Martin Skrtel will miss Sunday's Premier League
visit of Blackburn Rovers after sustaining a broken foot
against Unirea Urziceni.
His absence causes problems for manager Rafael Benitez as
fellow centre-back Sotirios Kyrgiakos serves the final game
of a three-match suspension.
Jamie Carragher is likely to revert to his usual role in the
centre, meaning Philipp Degen or youngster Martin Kelly
could come in at right-back as, although Glen Johnson is
close to full fitness after a knee problem, he is not in
Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez returns to the squad having been
ineligible for the trip to Romania.
Liverpool (from): Reina, Degen, Agger, Carragher, Insua,
Gerrard, Lucas, Aquilani, Benayoun, Riera, Rodriguez, Ngog,
Kuyt, Torres, Cavalieri, Pacheco, Spearing, Darby, Babel,
Gerrard breaks European record
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has set a new goal-scoring record
The midfielder's goal against Unirea in the Europa League
means he's now scored more goals than any other English
player in Europe.
Gerrard scored Liverpool's third goal in his side's 3-1 win,
taking his goal-scoring tally in European competitions to
Former Newcastle player and Match of the Day pundit Alan
Shearer previously held the record with 32 goals.
Gerrard's goal moved him one ahead in the scoring charts and
also ensured Liverpool moved into the last 16 of the
"It's always nice to break records but the main thing is to
get into the next round - and the most pleasing thing is to
do that," he said.
(BBC CBBC Newsround)
Diouf: It's not difficult at Anfield
Blackburn forward El-Hadji Diouf claimed it is "not
difficult" to go to Anfield and beat Liverpool, while also
admitting he loves being booed.
Ahead of Sunday's fixture between the two clubs, the
29-year-old is already far from popular with the Reds after
flopping in the wake of a £10million arrival from Lens in
The Senegalese came nowhere near meeting his price tag on
Merseyside and has since angered the locals with a few
less-than-complimentary remarks about his three-year stay.
Diouf has now upped the ante after suggesting Rovers could
easily record their first win at Liverpool since 1993 and
insists he will not buckle under probable abuse from The
Torres back in Spain squad
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has been included in the
Spain squad to face France next week.
Torres is back to fitness after recovering from knee surgery
which ruled him out for five weeks.
There were no surprises in Vicente del Bosque's 23-man
selection with Torres and Villarreal midfielder Marcos Senna
returning after injuries.
Sevilla winger Jesus Navas has again been included after
making his debut in Spain's 2-1 victory over Argentina in
Del Bosque insists there is no problem with Liverpool boss
Rafa Benitez over his inclusion of Torres with the striker
having previously picked up injuries on international duty.
"Torres played in Liverpool's last (league) match and seems
to have recovered and he looks to be in a condition to
play," said Del Bosque.
"We have had no differences with (Liverpool coach Rafa
Benitez), nor with any other coach."
Reds to face Lille in last 16
Liverpool will meet French side Lille in the last 16 of the
They edged out Turkish outfit Fenerbahce 3-2 on aggregate
after a 1-1 draw in Istanbul. Adil Rami's 85th minute strike
saw Rudi Garcia's team earn the right to take on Rafael
The first leg will take place in France on Thursday, March
11 with the return at Anfield scheduled for Thursday, March
Lille are currently third in the French league, four points
They finished second in their Europa League group having
tallied 10 points from a pool that also consisted of
Valencia, Genoa and Slavia Prague.
Lille play their home games at the Stade Nord Lille
Metropole. Formed in 1944, they're nicknamed 'Les Dogues',
which translates as the Mastiffs.
(LFC Official Website)
Rafa hails Reds' fighting spirit
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was pleased with the
character shown by his side in their 3-1 victory over Unirea
Urziceni in Romania, which sealed a 4-1 aggregate win and a
place in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League.
"We showed character. It was a difficult game because of the
pitch. We needed to be calm and do the job properly,"
Injury worry for Skrtel
Martin Skrtel suffered a suspected broken foot as Liverpool
beat Unirea Urziceni 3-1 in Romania to reach the last 16 of
the Europa League.
The Reds defender was injured in a second-half challenge
with Antonio Semedo and was replaced by Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was unhappy with the tackle
and confirmed that the Slovakian could have broken his foot.
"At this moment we don't know how serious it is but it could
be a broken foot," said Benitez.
"That would be bad news but we will have to wait and see
what happens but it was a bad tackle."
Liverpool overcome early setback
Liverpool avoided a potential Europa League embarrassment in
Romania as they came from behind to book their place in the
last 16. Shaky defending from set-pieces in the first half
saw them fall behind to Bruno Fernandes’ header in the 19th
minute and for a while they looked rattled.
However, a long range Javier Mascherano Strike and a Ryan
Babel goal turned things around before Steven Gerrard’s 33rd
European goal wrapped things up after the break.
It was the first time since the 6-1 win over Hull in
September that Liverpool had scored more than twice in a
game, a run of 29 matches.
(The Irish Times)
Unirea v Liverpool: Yossi Returns
Yossi Benayoun makes a welcome return to the Liverpool
starting line-up for the first time since January 13th in
this evening’s Europa League second leg tie with Unirea
Urziceni in Bucharest.
Ryan Babel keeps his place with Dirk Kuyt dropping down to
Liverpool’s confirmed team: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger,
Insua, Lucas, Mascherano, Babel, Benayoun, Gerrard, Ngog.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Torres, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Kuyt,
(This is Anfield)
Dalglish tells Reds to go and win it
Former Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish believes that
Liverpool should be able to go on and win the Europa League.
"We are where we are and we have to get on with it and deal
with it," Dalglish said, ahead of Thursday's second leg at
Unirea. "We're not that far away from the final so if we can
get through tonight then we should be excited about the rest
of the competition.
"If we get to the final and win it then people will forget
about the disappointments from earlier on.
"There are some good teams left in the Europa League so it
won't be easy. Benfica are a good side, Fenerbache aren't
bad and Juventus are there as well - but we're not bad
"We have to be confident without being stupid about it. We
have the lead so there's no great pressure on us to score
but if we can get one early on then it will make it more
difficult for them.
"I think they will play the same as they did last week when
they looked to keep things tight. They will want the crowd
to stay with them and so the longer it goes at 0-0 the more
they will feel they have a chance of sneaking one.
"The pitch won't be great and the conditions won't be the
best so we have to be careful, but at the same time we have
to believe we can get through it and into the next round."
Rafa backing Gerrard role
Rafa Benitez believes captaining England could help Steven
Gerrard take his game to a new level.
The Liverpool skipper is set to be handed the armband by
national team boss Fabio Capello for the 3rd March friendly
Chelsea defender John Terry was stripped of the
responsibility earlier this month following allegations over
his private life and replacement Rio Ferdinand is struggling
with a back injury.
Vice-captain Gerrard will now assume the responsibility for
the Wembley encounter and could be in the frame to lead his
country at the World Cup with doubts continuing over
Anfield talisman Gerrard has been criticised in the past for
not always transferring his club form onto the international
stage, and Benitez believes being asked to lead the side
could make a difference.
The Reds boss said: "I think captaining England will be good
for his confidence and could also have a good effect on him.
"We know he is important for us, and also important for
England. I think he has to take the responsibility as a