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Page last updated at 19:07 GMT, Sunday, 16 August 2009 20:07 UK

Benitez fumes at penalty denials


Benitez demands Liverpool improvement

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was furious at the decision to deny his side two penalties in their 2-1 Premier League defeat at Tottenham on Sunday.

Referee Phil Dowd ruled that Benoit Assou-Ekotto's challenge on Andriy Voronin and a handball later from the same player were not spot-kicks.

"The decisions were very poor," said the 49-year-old Spaniard.

"Everyone could see the first one was a penalty. The second one was handball but we knew it would not be a penalty."

As well as criticising Dowd, Benitez was also unhappy with fourth official Stuart Atwell, who sent off Reds assistant manager Sammy Lee for protesting too strongly about the alleged handball.

BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

"For the fourth official, he is a young referee and maybe he has to calm down a little bit. He is too young," added Benitez.

Liverpool felt they should have had a penalty when substitute Voronin went down following a shoulder challenge by Assou-Ekotto late in the second half at White Hart Lane.

Minutes later, Yossi Benayoun's right-wing cross struck the arm of Assou-Ekotto but the referee felt it was ball to hand and waved away further appeals.

Liverpool had already been awarded one penalty earlier in the match when Glenn Johnson was upended by keeper Heurelho Gomes and Steven Gerrard converted to cancel out Assou-Ekotto's 44th-minute strike.

Benitez suggested that official Dowd was swayed not to give Liverpool another spot-kick by his awarding of one already in the match.

"With this referee, I knew this [another penalty] was impossible," he stated.

Tottenham deserved win - Redknapp

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp rejected the claims of a penalty against Assou-Ekotto and said: "I did not think Liverpool's shout for a second penalty was right as Assou-Ekotto has just eased Voronin off the ball.

"It is the kind of bread-and-butter stuff that defenders do week in, week out. The ball was also running away from Voronin."

Redknapp chose to focus primarily on his side's victory, provided by Sebastien Bassong's headed goal on his debut only moments after Liverpool had equalised.

"We frustrated Liverpool, forcing them to knock the ball long, and our two centre-halves could just head the ball away," commented Redknapp.

"It was a good performance but now we need to go to Hull on Wednesday and do it all again."

But despite the win, Spurs boss did admit that he was looking to further strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes on 1 September.


"If we can strengthen again then we will do," he said.

"We want to put a team out here that can finish in the top six. We need to push on and if the right player became available that would improve us we would have a go."

Meanwhile, Benitez felt his side were not up to their usual standard as they failed to match the opening wins of the season by likely title rivals Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

"We have to improve in the middle, keeping the ball, and the understanding has to be better," conceded Benitez.

"But it is too early, and we have another game on Wednesday when clearly we have to improve in the possession."

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see also
Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool
16 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Sunday's football as it happened
16 Aug 09 |  Football
Sunday's Premier League photos
16 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham
16 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Benitez targets long-term success
09 May 09 |  Liverpool
Benitez signs long-term Reds deal
18 Mar 09 |  Liverpool

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