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Page last updated at 08:47 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Liverpool manager Benitez delighted by derby victory


Benitez relieved with derby victory

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes Sunday's hard-fought 2-0 win at Everton could help to kick-start their season.

A Joseph Yobo own goal and Dirk Kuyt's late strike helped the Reds to just a seventh win in 14 Premier League games and lifted them to fifth in the table.

The Spaniard said: "We won against Debrecen (in midweek) and we knew we had to keep winning. It was important.

"A derby is always very difficult and also very important so the win could set us up for the rest of the season."

Liverpool were second best for long periods at Goodison Park but took full advantage of some poor finishing by the hosts and also their own good fortune.

Javier Mascherano's early strike was deflected in off Yobo, while keeper Pepe Reina produced a stunning double save to prevent an equaliser when Marouane Fellaini shot from close range after Tim Cahill's initial header had been parried away.


Benitez has been under increasing criticism with five defeats in 13 games and a group stages Champions League exit, but managing director Christian Purslow insisted last week that the manager's job is safe.

And there was more good news for Liverpool after the match, with Benitez saying he hopes striker Fernando Torres will return for Saturday's trip to Blackburn after missing four games due to a groin problem.

"We were testing Fernando on Saturday. He told me he still had a little bit of pain, but he is improving," explained Benitez. "He is progressing and next week hopefully we can test him again."

After Kuyt had secured the points against their Merseyside rivals with an 80th minute goal, Benitez added: "It was a clearly a difficult game from the beginning. They were playing a direct and also a set-pieces game.

"It was very difficult to control that because they are strong in the air but we showed character and were trying to play counter-attack - sometimes with good possession, sometimes not so good.

Moyes proud of players despite defeat

"They were on top of us but we showed character, we won and scored two goals and at the end of the game maybe we had better control."

Everton boss David Moyes was left to rue his side's missed opportunities, with £10m Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov twice wasting glorious chances.

Despite a third successive league defeat extending their run to one win in 11, leaving them three points from the relegation zone, the Scot was pleased with the effort from his players.

"I don't feel we came off the pitch losers," he said. "The players worked extremely hard and I felt they deserved more than they got.

"The deflected goal took the sting out of us. I don't know how many times Liverpool had been in our half up to that point but it wasn't many. I thought the players reacted great.

"They kept going and I thought in the main we kept Liverpool quiet. The game was tight and we, in the main, were trying to set the tone and make it difficult for them.

"It is disappointing you don't get anything from that."

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see also
Everton 0-2 Liverpool
29 Nov 09 |  Premier League
Merseyside bosses vow to fight on
27 Nov 09 |  Premier League
Debrecen 0-1 Liverpool
24 Nov 09 |  Europe
Hull City 3-2 Everton
25 Nov 09 |  Premier League

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