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Benitez issues warning to rivals

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Liverpool display almost perfect - Benitez

Rafael Benitez believes Liverpool's 1-0 win at Chelsea has served notice of his team's Premier League ambitions.

"To win here and stay top of the table unbeaten is a massive message for the other teams," the Liverpool boss said.

"With the players showing the character they did, it was a big boost for the rest of the season."

But having drawn against Stoke after beating Manchester United this season, he cautioned: "We need three points in our next game against Portsmouth."

Chelsea had some chances but their final pass was not the best on occasions

Rafael Benitez
Premier League leaders Liverpool, who are now three points clear of Chelsea, play Portsmouth at Anfield on Wednesday and Benitez was quick to point out that after the 2-1 victory over the champions in September his side then drew at home with Stoke.

Xabi Alonso's 10th-minute goal proved decisive as Chelsea's 86-game unbeaten league run at Stamford Bridge came to an end, but Benitez was equally impressed by his side's ability to stifle Chelsea's creativity.

"We can go to any stadium and win games," added Benitez. "Against a very good team, a very offensive team, we showed we were thinking about winning.

606: DEBATE

"The players know what to do and it is difficult for the opposition to create chances. Chelsea had some chances but their final pass was not the best on occasions.

"My players were really good and all credit to them. When you have players with quality and they work so hard, you have a winning team."

Beaten for the first time since taking charge in the summer, Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari attributed his side's defeat to abandoning the more thoughtful passing approach that had served them so well in their previous eight games.

Chelsea are still a good team - Scolari

"In the first half we dominated the game and in the second we had more possession of the ball and passed it well until we got near their penalty area," said Scolari.

"After this we crossed many balls but they had a good defensive line and dealt with every one. We didn't play as we have done in other games because we didn't have the space.

"We only had space to cross. This is not the football we play normally. We need to try and play on the ground, not high balls, because I don't have big strikers.

"I don't need them to put the ball in the box all the time. But they lost the confidence to touch the ball and were afraid of not changing the result.

"I said to them 'Look, try to keep on playing but they didn't listen'."

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see also
Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool
26 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
26 Oct 08 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
26 Oct 08 |  Football


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