Garcia delight at
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Liverpool's new hero Luis Garcia today spoke of his
pride at being compared to Anfield's greatest ever
player, Kenny Dalglish.
But the Spaniard says Barcelona legend Michael Laudrup
is the player who influenced his game the most.
Garcia shone for the second time in four days in the 2-0
Champions League victory over Monaco and admitted his
surprise at the speed at which he's settled on
As the 'missing link' between midfield and attack,
Garcia is already earning rave reviews.
And the impact shows in the names being used as a
reference point for Garcia's skills.
"Obviously it makes me very happy when you hear fans
making comparisons with some great players," said
Garcia, also dubbed the ' mini Litmanen ' in some
"I've heard of Kenny Dalglish but I never saw him play.
The important thing is if people say that, it must mean
I'm making the fans happy. If that continues, even
"The player I used to love watching as a youngster was
Michael Laudrup. The moves and runs I make come from
"I do particularly like playing where I've been in the
last two matches, although the main thing is to be
available for the manager in whatever position he wants
Garcia says the instant backing he's received from the
Kop can continue to inspire him.
"My intention was to settle as quickly as possible, but
the reality is that it usually takes a few more games,"
"I thought I would develop my game gradually, but I've
performed well much quicker than expected.
To get the backing and support of the fans is also
important to every player. As time goes by I just want
to keep on improving my performances and impress them
"I had some chances to score last night, but I'm not too
worried I missed. It would worry me much more if I
wasn't getting chances at all.
"I've left a great club in Barcelona, but I've also
joined one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The intention
is to build something special here and we've started off
on the right footing.
"Players like Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard already
have a reputation across Europe for being great, but
what we really need to do is win trophies.
"I've left my family and friends behind to come here and
that's down to the faith the manager has put in me. I've
confidence in him and hopefully I will repay that faith
over the next few months."
Garcia is now looking ahead to Monday's trip to Old
Trafford, well equipped to deal with the intense rivalry
between Liverpool and United from his experiences in
He added: "I know Liverpol versus United is like
Barcelona and Real Madrid. Now we've got this victory
out of the way I will become more aware of the
expectancy. I'm really looking forward to that game."
Deschamps: Defeat could have been bigger
Monaco boss Didier Deschamps conceded that only the
performance of goalkeeper Flavio Roma prevented
Liverpool from securing a bigger victory.
Goals from Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros sent last
year's Champions League finalists sliding to a 2-0
defeat in the opening group game of this year's
And Deschamps admitted it could easily have been an even
more convincing return to Europe's elite competition for
He said: "We changed our shape in the second half and
for a while we pushed them back but had it not been for
our keeper Roma, we would have had even worse problems.
"We could not get into the game and lost out in all
areas of the pitch.
"The result went against us and we got what we deserved.
We lacked aggression and were too slow to the ball,
Liverpool were a yard quicker than us everywhere.
"We did not make many chances and were forced to defend
too much. We were put under pressure sometimes last
season in this competition, but I do not recall us being
forced to defend as much as this.
"I was not happy with what I saw but I will look at the
situation calmly and talk to the players to try to put
"But we were short of the quality some of our injured
players would have given us, and that in the end was the
difference between the sides."
brings back Molby memories
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
The last time Liverpool played host to a proper
Champions League game, they were comprehensively
outclassed by what Michael Owen later hailed as the best
display by an away team at Anfield in his time there.
Valencia were handing out the lesson that evening, led
by a certain Rafael Benitez. Much has happened since
that eye-opening 90 minutes in November 2002 - not least
the Spaniard exchanging dugouts to take over from Gerard
Houllier while Owen himself ventured to pastures new -
but the feeling remains that Liverpool are mere
temporary gatecrashers among Europe's present elite.
Their defeat to Grazer AK under-lined to Benitez the
scale of the work he must undertake if common perception
of Liverpool's European credentials is to be altered in
the immediate future.
Such transformation won't happen overnight, and while
success in the Premiership must take precedence over
Continental conquests, the challenge of locking horns
with the cream of European football can only help
Benitez's domestic cause.
First up last night were Champions League runners-up
Monaco, decimated by summer departures and seemingly
ripe for Liverpool to post an early marker for Europe to
So it proved. With Houllier watching on, it was
inevitable his parting gift Djibril Cisse would grace
the evening with his first Anfield goal. But he was
outshone by Benitez's own multi-million addition to his
To all but the most learned Liverpool supporters, Xabi
Alonso was an unknown quantity to file along with
Benitez's other Spanish acquisitions. But after first
Josemi and on Saturday Luis Garcia had posted their
statement of intent, so it was the composed midfielder's
turn to demonstrate his wares.
They are substantial. Although lacking the explosive
pace and tenacious tackling of midfield partner Steven
Gerrard, Alonso more than compensates with a passing
range unseen in these parts since the days of Jan Molby
- one ball in particular last night inside the
right-hand channel for Steve Finnan an apt illustration
of his asssets. In fact, with his shock of brown hair
and languid style, Alonso comes across as a (much)
slimmer version of the stocky Dane.
This was in truth the ideal fixture for the Spaniard to
begin what will almost certainly be a long-term
partnership with Gerrard, with the new-look Monaco
offering token resistance in the centre of the park.
Possession in Europe is key and with his team-mates
gradually taking the hint last night, Alonso will be an
influential cog should Liverpool progress further in the
with Monaco win
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez declared himself
satisfied after his first Champions League match in
charge at Anfield ended in a 2-0 victory over Monaco.
Lone striker Djibril Cisse gave the home side a
first-half lead and despite missing a few chances after
the break Cisse's replacement Milan Baros secured the
result with a coolly-taken goal late on.
"We have done a good game. We concentrated and perhaps we could have scored a lot more goals," he said.
"We need to know these game are difficult. This is a
good team (Monaco) who played with five at the back and
we had to be patient.
"The two forwards scored, which is good for the team."
The Spanish coach admitted he had some worrying moments
in the second half as Monaco looked as though they were
going to make Liverpool pay for squandering chances.
"At 1-0 if you don't score and have a lot of mistakes
you normally think one mistake in defence you concede a
goal but we managed to relax," he added.
"It is important to keep a clean sheet, it gives the
whole team more confidence.
"This is the second home victory [of the season], and it
is important for the team, supporters and the club.
"If you win many times you have more confidence."
so was Gerrard
Captain Steven Gerrard said: "We're happy with how it
went - we've played well, kept a clean sheet and scored
two goals - and we could have had more.
"We played some nice football and worked hard and
limited them to very few attempts on goal - which was
"I thought we passed the ball really well at times
tonight, which was pleasing to see.
"They had a bit of joy in the middle of the second half
and we needed a second goal to kill them off because
it's always dangerous at 1-0 against quality sides."
He continued: "This is where we want to be - we want to
do well in the Champions League.
"It's always important to win your home games in the
group situation and we're very pleased with how it's
"It's something to build on for the game at Manchester
United (on Monday in the Barclays Premiership)."
However, the influential midfielder was disappointed
with his booking for a 51st-minute foul on Sebastien
Squillaci, with the Monaco player's team-mates reacting
vocally to the challenge.
The England man continued on Sky Sports: "I tried to
explain to the referee that I slipped and didn't mean to
"I wouldn't like to say their players got me booked but
I was disappointed with how they reacted - I was trying
to explain to them as well.
"But it's gone now and I'm sure it won't be rescinded."
for the Reds
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool opened their Champions League campaign with
a morale-boosting win.
Benitez's side went ahead through a clever goal - Steven
Gerrard and Luis Garcia combining to set up Djibril
Cisse, who rifled a shot home.
Cisse celebrates the opener. (Photo: Reuters)
Garcia went close twice before the interval, first
drawing a reaction save from Flavio Roma and then
hitting the woodwork with an angled header.
Substitute Milan Baros made the game safe for Liverpool
with a wonderful individualistic goal late on.
Didiers Deschamps' side were a pale imitation of the
side that reached last year's final.
Ludovic Guily and Jerome Rothen have left for new
pastures, while Javier Saviola was banned and Ernesto
Chevanton and Shabani Nonda were out injured.
Those absentees saw Monaco adopt a defensive strategy
deployingthree central defenders - Sebastien Squillaci,
Gael Givet and Vassilis Zikos - a tactic that initially
stymied Liverpool as they sought to establish a link to
After the interval Deschamps withdrew left-back Patrice
Evra and introduced another striker Souleymane Camara in
a bid to rescue the game.
The switch gave Monaco a better balance, though
Deschamps' team laboured to create openings, the best
Monaco effort an Emmanuel Adebayor header which Dudek
saved at the foot of the post.
Early on Liverpool's best chance in those opening
exchanges was Garcia's ambitious effort, a shot that
mirrored an earlier long-range strike for Monaco from
Mohamed Kallon that almost caught out Jerzy Dudek.
Gradually Cisse's runs began to trouble Monaco's
defensive triumvirate, while Gerrard and Garcia began to
strike up the rapport that had been such a feature of
Saturday's win over West Brom.
A one-two between those two Liverpool midfielders
created Cisse's goal, an exchange of passes ending with
Gerrard slipping the ball to the former Auxerre striker,
who crashed his shot past Roma.
Soon after Kewell's deft header released Garcia, whose
low shot was superbly blocked by Roma.
In first-half stoppage time Gerrard and Garcia again
combined to great effect as the Spaniard angled a header
against Roma's right-hand upright.
Just before the hour Kewell managed to set free Cisse
once more, but Roma did well to stand his ground and
then divert the Liverpool striker's shot.
With 10 minutes to go Garcia should have made the game
safe for Liverpool, but the Spaniard crashed his shot
wide with just the Monaco goalkeeper to beat.
It was left to Baros to apply the coup de grace as he
single-handedly outfoxed the Monaco defence as he
slipped the ball past Roma after a jinking run.