History shows we can win Champions League
By Andy Hunter - Daily Post
Jamie Carragher insists the recent history of the
Champions League shows how Liverpool can defy the odds
and go all the way in this season's competition.
Despite their comprehensive demolition of Bayer
Leverkusen over two legs and the absence of many
continental heavyweights from the quarter-final draw,
Liverpool are seventh favourites to win a fifth European
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal
were all knocked out at the last-16 stage this week to
leave Liverpool and Chelsea flying the flag for the
Only PSV Eindhoven and Porto, level at 1-1 with Inter
Milan ahead of next week's second leg at the San Siro,
are rated bigger outsiders than Liverpool to triumph in
Istanbul in May.
But Carragher believes any quarter-finalist can win
Europe's greatest prize - with the surprise success of
Jose Mourinho's Porto last season providing all the
inspiration Liverpool need.
Anfield's outstanding centre-half declared: "We are just
delighted Liverpool, a great name and a great club, is
in the quarterfinals.
"I'm sure we will be considered one of the outsiders in
the last eight, and probably rightly so, because there
are a lot of teams left in who are winning trophies and
titles in their own countries.
"But the best teams don't always win the Champions
League - anything can happen. I'd imagine every game
will be tight and could go either way. In a oneoff game
anything can happen.
"AC Milan and Chelsea will be looked upon as being among
the best teams in Europe. We're probably not up there
but we want to go as far as we can.
"We're happy to be here and have probably done a lot
more than many people thought we would at the start of
the season. But we're not just going to give up and take
it easy in the next round."
Carragher's confidence is shared throughout the
Liverpool camp following their impressive triumph in
Germany on Tuesday.
The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes
place in Nyon next Friday, when Rafael Benitez's side
could land PSV, Chelsea, Lyon, Juventus, AC Milan,
Bayern Munich or the winners of Inter Milan and Porto.
And Steve Finnan believes the Champions League offers
Liverpool a perfect remedy to the disappointment of
their recent Carling Cup final defeat.
"Of course we can do what Porto did, why not?" insisted
the fullback. "Nobody expected them to win it but they
did. We are scoring goals now and six over two legs is a
good return. I'm sure we will test whoever we meet in
the next round.
"We have the players and the experience too. We are
looking well as a team. We're still learning with every
game and I'm sure the manager is still learning about us
"I'm sure he will want to bring in a few players in the
summer, and everyone wants this club to go places.
"We're in the last eight and hopefully that can continue
in the next round. It would be great to get to the
final, and hope-fully we can win it, who knows?
"We were in a final the other week which we lost. That
was not a good feeling, and it would be great to put
that right now."
Porto-style Euro shock
Liverpool's heroes returned from a night of triumph
in Germany to claim they could shock Europe just like
Jose Mourinho's Porto did in winning the Champions
League last season.
Few believed the Portuguese and their fast-taking boss
could scale the heights of Europe's elite event, but
Mourinho masterminded UEFA Cup and Champions League
triumphs in successive seasons.
It is not lost on Liverpool's delighted fans that their
new boss Rafael Benitez won the UEFA Cup last season
with Valencia, and is steadily picking off rivals in
this season's Champions League.
There was a quiet confidence among Liverpool's party on
their crack-of-dawn return flight to Merseyside after
the 6-2 aggregate triumph over Bayer Leverkusen.
It was summed up by Irish full-back Steve Finnan, who
said: "Of course we can do what Porto did, why not?
"Nobody expected them to win it but they did. We are now
starting to score goals - six goals in two legs against
Leverkusen surely shows something about us.
"That has been a tough test so there is no reason why we
can't go all the way. We have the experience and the
players at this level so hopefully we can do it and
Liverpool blazed into a quick two-goal lead with two
Luis Garcia strikes to totally devastate the home side's
morale and Finnan added: "It was easier than we thought.
The first goal was always going to be important and we
got it, so from then things were a lot easier than they
could have been.
"They seemed to think that was the end of it and they
could not get back into the tie. It turned into a
"But the fact that Manchester United and Arsenal have
not managed to get to this stage shows just how
difficult it is.
"Whoever you play at this level is tough, but we did
such a good job in the first leg it gave us a real
incentive and a belief that we could finish the job.
"United and Arsenal had difficult ties and couldn't
manage it. But we have done it and that has made us feel
"Now we have two home games next, against Blackburn and
then Everton and they are very important. After having a
taste of the Champions League this season the incentive
is there for us to make sure we are back in next term
and we can still finish fourth."
The bookies reflect the feeling around Europe that
Liverpool have gone as far as they can. Chelsea are
favourites at 10-3, AC Milan 7-2, Juventus 4-1, Bayern
Munich 6-1, Lyon and Inter Milan 8-1, Liverpool 10-1,
Eindhoven 20-1 and Porto, already 1-0 down and facing a
second leg away to Inter next week, are 80-1 outsiders.
But those odds will only inspire Liverpool further. Luis
Garcia added his support to the theory that Liverpool
can shock the European super-powers they once rubbed
shoulders with as equals.
He said: "We are in the last eight and anything can
happen. If Porto can win the Champions League then so
can we. In football, many unpredictable things happen
every season so why shouldn't we believe we can go all
Defender Jamie Carragher warmed to the theme, saying:
"To beat Leverkusen is a great result. They are a top
class opposition and you only have to look at their home
record where they scored three goals against Real Madrid
"We are in the quarter finals now and anything can
happen. There are some good teams left in the Champions
League but any team can win it. It is not always the
best teams that win a cup competition and we feel we
have a chance."
For midfielder Vladimir Smicer it was the chance to gain
sweet revenge for his last visit to the Bavarian, where
Leverkusen knocked out Liverpool at the quarter final
stage three years ago.
Smicer said: "We played well, we should have scored more
goals, but it was a great win and a great victory and it
was certainly better than three years ago when we lost
in the quarter finals in Leverkusen.
"I had some bad memories from that match, it was rough
on us because we lost it right at the end when it looked
like we were in the semi-finals. I am just glad that we
have put that right in some ways and are through to the
"It is really good for us because if you win against big
teams then it gives you confidence. If you beat big
teams it should be easier to play matches in the league
because your confidence is much higher.
"It is a great prestige for us to be in the last eight
and I do not mind who we play now, they are all quality
"If you are in the last eight it means you must know
something, know what you are doing, and I feel we
deserve to be here in the quarter finals."
Milan Baros was told to do his talking on the pitch
by Rafael Benitez and believes he has gone a long way to
answering the criticism from his Liverpool boss.
The Czech striker led a one-man attacking assault on
Bayer Leverkusen in the BayArena to set up Liverpool's
advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Baros was bitterly upset after being dumped for the
Carling Cup final and said as much to anyone who wanted
Benitez's reaction then was to say he did not mind his
players speaking their mind, but he would rather they
let their feet do the talking.
And although Baros was far from perfect in Germany -
still infuriating his team-mates by failing to look up
and pick out a pass - he did run the Bayer defence
ragged and afterwards believed he had put his season
back on course.
Baros scored the third Liverpool goal in a 3-1 victory
and could have had several more as well as setting up
colleagues but he had started his rehabilitation with
his Anfield boss.
He said after the 6-2 aggregate victory: "I hadn't
scored for a long time after my injury, but now I've
done that and hopefully from now on I will score a few
more goals and keep my place in the team.
"It has not been easy and my form was not always good,
but I would like to think that things have now changed
for me. I am certainly happy with the way it went for
me, but the most important thing for us is the result."
delighted for Warnock
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
For two times European Cup winner Alan Kennedy the
performance of Stephen Warnock in Leverkusen was
particularly sweet as he recommended the player to
Kennedy admires Warnock as a left back and says he shows
great commitment, passion and desire for the team.
Kennedy told Liverpoolfc.tv: "I remember Stephen being
at one of my soccer schools and he really stood out as
being a brilliant prospect. I got on the phone to Steve
Heighway and Roy Evans and said you have got to take a
look at this boy.
"I thought he was fantastic against Leverkusen. I really
like him as a left back. He has a great left foot and
can pass the ball and get forward. The tackle he made
near the end was just brilliant and Rafa will like that
seeing a player never giving up and showing great
"I hope Stephen can push on now and get a good run of
games because he deserves to."
On the Reds superb display in Leverkusen Kennedy said:
"It was a wonderful performance from Liverpool and I
make no apologies for using the word wonderful. Right
from the start they took the game to Leverkusen and it
was so good to see the full backs getting forward all
the time and pushing on.
"We should have had a penalty when Milan Baros was
brought down but credit to the players who never let
their heads drop and got their rewards. I was delighted
for Baros to score as he deserved a goal. I thought Luis
Garcia was absolutely tremendous and he is brilliant in
Europe. I just hope he can get some consistency in the
Premiership because he could be a really good player for
"At times last night it was like watching the old
Liverpool and the way we used to play in the European
Cup. Liverpool are in the last eight because we deserve
to be and who knows what can happen.
"I am delighted for the manager and I thought it was
absolutely brilliant to see him in the bar with the
Liverpool fans the night before the game."
looking so much brighter
Comment by Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Whatever out-come Rafael Benitez could have predicted
for Liverpool's visit to Leverkusen, not even the
wildest of fantasies would have envisaged last night's
procession into the last eight of the Champions League.
The Liverpool manager had proclaimed before the match
that he'd gazed into his crystal ball and seen Steven
Gerrard netting on German soil.
But it was Spanish schemer Luis Garcia who instead
helped the Anfield side on their way to a dream start
and comprehensively banish memories of their Bayer
beating the last time they ventured to those parts in
Credit for the win must be shared between Benitez and
The manager's tactics were spot on - again pushing
Gerrard into an advanced midfield role behind sole
striker Milan Baros - and his charges responded with an
astute, committed display light years from the sparkless
fare served up at Newcastle five days earlier.
How different to three years ago, when the BayArena was
host to the beginning of the end of Gerard Houllier's
reign at Anfield.
It's easily Benitez's finest result so far at the club
and will have a galvanising effect on Liverpool's
attempts to ensure they remain in the competition next
This was a performance akin to the Liverpool of old in
Europe, silencing the crowd early on, imposing
themselves on the game and never losing their cool or
sight of their objective.
And while Manchester United and Arsenal lick their
wounds, the Anfield side join Chelsea in the last eight
of Europe's finest. Not bad for a team regarded by some
pundits as their poorest since the heady days when they
ruled the Continent in the 70s and 80s.
It was Gerrard who - admit-tedly with some merit -
unwisely stated it was unlikely a fifth European Cup
would be proudly gleaming in the Anfield trophy come
May, prompting Benitez to state pre-match that progress
last night would prove Liverpool are on the verge of
becoming a major European force again.
No-one will be getting carried away by this despatching
of an injury-ravaged and ultimately demoralised
Leverkusen outfit, but after such a turbulent campaign
Liverpool followers could be forgiven for allowing
themselves to believe in the unbelievable.
Injuries, of course, have also been the great bugbear of
Benitez's first year at Anfield and have contributed to
the inconsistency which has hampered Premiership
And given the efficiency and professionalism which oozed
throughout both ties against Leverkusen, it will have
further infuriated fans who have witnessed the
ridiculousness of Southampton and Birmingham that sits
uneasily alongside the sublimity of last night.
After earlier victories in Graz and La Coruna in the
competitions, if Liverpool could take this kind of away
form on their domestic travels the pressure on Benitez
would ease considerably.
Yellow is the colour of the coward, but in their
striking away strip last night there were Liverpool
Gerrard's role gave him more leeway to create havoc
among the Leverkusen defence, and with Igor Biscan and
Dietmar Hamann providing smothering cover behind, the
captain was the brightest he has been for some time.
Ahead of him, Milan Baros posted a welcome reminder of
his talents after a lengthy spell in the doldrums that
plumbed new depths on Saturday. Denied a clear penalty
in the 11th minute, the Czech forward's application and
improved attitude paid dividends, and although his
decisionmaking at times betrayed a shortfall in
confidence, he deserved his second-half goal for his
hard work alone.
Elsewhere, Garcia was effervescent and carried on from
his fine showing in the first leg, expertly clipping
home the opener after 28 minutes. The Spaniard has come
in for stick after some wayward performances but it was
on the strength of displays like last night that Benitez
brought him to the club. More of the same please, Luis.
Stephen Warnock repaid his manager's faith in him with a
dis-play at full-back as composed as his fellow
So comfortable were his side, Benitez saw fit to tempt
fate by replacing Hamann with Vladimir Smicer almost to
the same minute his predecessor made a similar switch
with such devastating consequences in 2002. A touch
The late concession to Jacek Krzynowek will have irked a
Liverpool defence unaccustomed to clean sheets on their
travels, but otherwise Jerzy Dudek was largely
untroubled by a Leverkusen side who were going through
the motions once Garcia had forced home his second by
diverting Biscan's header on 32 minutes.
Between now and the first leg of their Champions League
quarter-final, Liverpool have three home Premiership
games - against Blackburn Rovers, Everton and Bolton
Wanderers - in which a hat-trick of victories would haul
them to within touching distance of their neighbours in
For now, however, Liverpool's season continues to boast
the most welcome of distractions.
Klaus has no complaints
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Klaus Augenthaler had few complaints about Bayer
Leverkusen's 3-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on
Despite trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Bayer had high
hopes of making the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions
League, but Liverpool stunned them with a 3-1 win in
"With a 3-1, loss, we have few arguments," said
"However we had to replace some injured people for the
"Just in a phase when we were getting into the game, we
took a big blow with their goals.
"We had planned so much, but then a certain uncertainty
made itself apparent.
"We thought we would have had only one chance, and that
was if we had scored the first goal."
Rafa raves over Reds win
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was delighted with his
side's impressive defeat of Bayer Leverkusen.
The Reds cruised into the quarter finals of the UEFA
Champions League courtesy of a 3-1 win in Germany making
a 6-2 aggregate scoreline.
Luis Garcia grabbed two while Milan Baros wrapped up the
tie with a third, and Benitez was delighted with the
"I'm very proud because we have played a very good first
half and after that we played with great control and
made it very difficult for them," said Benitez.
"At the end we took off players with yellow cards like
Hamann and Carra so it was a good night.
"We did a good job as a team we worked hard and stayed
"Garcia is a skilful player who can do many things - he
can score great goals and play some great passes but the
team all played well today.
"Milan had the support of Gerrard and sometimes Riise
and Luis but he had to work very hard because we have
only a few forwards and he deserved his goal for his
Benitez firmly believes that his side can go a long way
in the Champions League this term, but is not getting
carried away before the draw for the last eight is made
"We will see who we get in the next game - we just take
one game at a time, and in this case one leg at a time.
"We are not afraid of any teams left."
Skipper Steven Gerrard was delighted with what he
labelled as Liverpool's best away display for some time
- and said their game plan was always to come out
"It was good performance," said Gerrard. "I think we
surprised some people who thought we would sit back and
look for a 0-0 but we knew we could hit these on the
counter attack - we've seen the tapes and we knew we
could do it.
"That's the best we've played away from home for a
"We never came here for no 0-0 draw because we came to
win - and credit to the lads we played really well.
"We're not happy with the way we've played on the road
but hopefully we can now take some of that form into the
Garcia lead rampant Reds
By Paul Highan - Sky Sports
Liverpool strolled into the quarter finals of the
UEFA Champions League with a devastating away
performance in Bayer Leverkusen, dispatching the Germans
6-2 on aggregate.
Rafa Benitez took his side to Germany with a 3-1
advantage, but any worries of Bayer's away goal a
fortnight ago were soon banished as Liverpool produced a
dominating European away day to match anything of their
glory days of the past.
Luis Garcia inspired the victory with two superbly taken
close range efforts in four first half minutes that had
the tie wrapped up at 2-0 on the night and 5-1 on
Milan Baros grabbed a deserved third goal to make it 6-1
on aggregate and book Liverpool's place in the last
eight of the competition in impressive fashion, despite
a late consolation from Jacek Krzynowek making it 6-2.
Baros sprung the offside trap inside five minutes but he
was unaware of the space behind him and turned into
danger before producing a weak shot that was easily
saved by Hans Jorg Butt.
With a two-goal deficit to make up everyone was
expecting a German onslaught but it was the visitors who
started the better, carrying out their manager's promise
to go in search of a vital away goal.
Their chance looked to have come on 12 minutes when an
industrious Milan Baros run was ended by a blatant
Jan-Ingwer Callasen-Bracker foul, but referee Alain Sars
somehow missed the decision.
Landon Donovan and Dimitar Berbatov then missed good
chances from the edge of the box as Liverpool started to
look a touch nervy in defence.
In attack, however, the Merseysiders looked threatening
and the hard-working Baros was making life a misery for
the Bayer back-line, with his 23rd-minute run and
cut-back just evading Steven Gerrard.
The Liverpool skipper nearly put his side ahead on 27
minutes when he fired in a screamer from 25 yards that
Butt did superbly well to turn round the post.
Bayer's reprieve was only temporary, however, and
Liverpool went ahead on the night from Gerrard's cross
after a corner, with diminutive Spaniard Garcia nipping
in ahead of the defence to apply and deft flick past
Things got worse for Klaus Augenthaler's side a minute
later when top striker Berbatov had to come off with
some sort of injury, to be replaced by Andrei Voronin.
Despite a 4-1 aggregate lead, Liverpool continued their
attack on the German goal and they soon stunned the
hosts with a second strike after 32 minutes.
Gerrard's corner was met by Igor Biscan's powerful
header, and again Garcia was on hand with another
exquisite touch to turn the ball past Butt for a 5-1
Liverpool's small but vociferous band of supports were
going wild in the corner of the BayArena with their side
now well in command of the tie.
Another flowing move from Liverpool early in the second
half nearly provided a third goal, as Gerrard's cross
was deflected into the path of the hat-trick chasing
Garcia, but his instant hit went just wide.
Liverpool were guilty of just dropping the tempo and
allowing Bayer to get a few good sights of goal, with
Franca and Voronin both wasting good chances.
Jerzy Dudek was then called into action for the first
time after an hour when he beat Franca's well hit shot
away at his ear post.
Baros finally grabbed the goal his endless endeavour had
deserved, when he latched on to a deflection before
chesting down and dispatching past Butt with ease to put
Liverpool through to the quarter finals.
Krzynowek grabbed a late goal for Bayer, but it could
not take the gloss of a fine 3-0 win on the night for
Liverpool, with a superb 6-2 aggregate scoreline.