Sunday, October 5, 2008


Rafael Benitez praised the character of his players after the Reds came back from 2-0 down to beat Manchester City 3-2 following a fantastic second half performance.
Goals from Stephen Ireland and Javier Garrido gave Mark Hughes team a commanding interval lead, but inspired by Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt the Reds roared back to complete a memorable victory.

Torres scored twice, making him Liverpool's record overseas goalscorer in the Premier League, and Kuyt netted a stoppage time winner for his first strike in the top flight for over 10 months.

The only blemish to a great victory was Martin Skrtel forced off on a stretcher with a knee injury.

"I'm really pleased with the result but am disappointed for Martin Skrtel with his injury," said Benitez.

"The positive thing was the reaction of the players after a bad first half. We made two mistakes for both goals and the reaction and character we showed in the second half was for me the key to winning the game.

"I told the players at half-time to try and score one goal and then we would be right back in the game. That was the idea and the character and determination of the players was much better than the first half.

"We were pushing hard in the second half and the determination of the players was fantastic.

"The problem in the first half was we were making mistakes against players with ability and pace.

"It's better for me that we don't concede goals but at least if you can win it shows the players are ready for winning every game. Physically we are in good condition so credit to our fitness coach. We also have great belief and mentality."

The Reds boss also felt the sending-off of City right back Pablo Zabaleta was justified after a late challenge on Xabi Alonso.

"Xabi is okay," added Rafa. "It was a clear red card, no doubt about this and very clear.

"At this point we were controlling the game and were on top of them. We were creating chances and we were better than them."

On Torres' brace, the boss added: "We know how important Torres is for us. He is always a threat to the defenders and can score goals. He also gives space to his teammates and Torres is a fantastic boy with a good mentality. He was unlucky not to get his hat-trick."

Benitez also defended his decision to start Robbie Keane on the bench and said it was for tactical reasons.

"City have a players with pace and a lot of skill so we were trying to control this in the middle of the park and give freedom to Gerrard," added the gaffer. "It wasn't bad but we made some mistakes. In the second half the attitude changed and everything was different.

"Against good teams it's always important to do the right things and we know we can beat anyone. They are a good team with a lot of good players and a good manager, so the belief of our players was the key."



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