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Page last updated at Sunday, 23 March 2008, 18:43 GMT

Benitez backs sent-off Mascherano

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Interview: Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez gave his support to Javier Mascherano after the midfielder was sent off during the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United.

The Argentine was shown a second yellow for showing dissent towards referee Steve Bennett.

"Mascherano was surprised at the decision because he thought he said nothing wrong," said Benitez.

"Ryan Babel heard everything and told me Mascherano was just asking why Fernando Torres had been booked."

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Benitez did admit that the Argentine midfielder, who was still incensed in the moments after being shown red, had made a mistake in going up to Bennett.

"He reacted like he did because he was surprised - I was telling him calm down. However, he made a mistake though by approaching the referee."

The Spanish manager added: "After the sending-off the game was over."

At that point, Liverpool were already 1-0 down after United defender Wes Brown outjumped goalkeeper Pepe Reina to head Sir Alex Ferguson's men into the lead.

Javier Mascherano and Rafa Benitez
Mascherano explains his dismissal to manager Benitez

But it was not until the 79th minute that they doubled their lead when Reina was beaten again in the air, this time by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Benitez defended his fellow countryman despite the errors.

"Sometimes keepers make mistakes - these things happen."

United boss Ferguson was adamant Mascherano suffered the consequences as a result of his pestering of Bennett.

"He was booked and then kept badgering the referee," said the Scot.

I don't think the sending-off changed the game too much

United's Wayne Rooney

United forward Wayne Rooney said the red card had little bearing on the match.

"It's always nice to beat Liverpool. We tried to play the game as we saw it and I'm delighted with the win," said the striker.

"I don't think the sending-off changed the game too much. At the end the of the match Liverpool were tired but during the game we always looked comfortable."



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