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Page last updated at 19:35 GMT, Sunday, 28 February 2010

Reds boss Rafael Benitez mocks Blackburn's style

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce (left) and Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez
There is no love lost between Allardyce (left) and Benitez

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez sarcastically compared Blackburn's style to European champions Barcelona after his team beat Rovers on Sunday.

Benitez saw his team win a physical encounter and then stoked up his feud with Rovers boss Sam Allardyce.

"I think it is a model for all the managers around the world, their style of football, his behaviour," he said of Rovers tactics and their manager.

"The style of football, I think, Barcelona are thinking of copying."

Benitez suffered his first defeat in the Premier League in a match against a Bolton side managed by Allardyce in 2004.

Former Reds defender Sami Hyppia suffered a broken nose early in that contest and the relationship between the two managers has been fractious ever since.

We try to do our talking on the pitch

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

Allardyce accused Benitez of showing a lack of respect after a gesture during Liverpool's 4-0 win against Rovers last season.

And the Blackburn boss said in the build-up to Sunday's game that Liverpool had been reduced to a team scrapping for points as the battle to finish fourth in the Premier League hots up.

Asked about Allardyce's comments, Benitez added: "It doesn't matter - we won.

"We try to do our talking on the pitch. If they are pleased with the way they play under this manager it is their decision.

"They have a style and they are a team that plays this way under this manager.

"Some people have to talk before the press conference or after because it is more difficult for them to do a football job."

Benitez was unhappy with the physical approach of Blackburn on Sunday.

Steven Nzonzi was yellow carded after pushing Lucas in the face at Anfield and Benitez clearly thought the Blackburn player should have been sent off.

"See the replay of the incident, it was very clear," added the Reds boss.

"We have had four of five players with problems, bleeding, and Maxi with stud (marks) in his abdomen. Interesting - but we won."

Unfortunately when we come to places like Anfield they are very good at swaying things their way

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres scored as Liverpool won for the first time in three attempts in the Premier League.

But it was a match that occasionally threatened to boil over, with Gerrard and El-Hadji Diouf exchanging angry words before half-time and the duo had to be separated as they walked off at the interval.

"It is an unfortunate reflection on our performance that we had about 25 fouls and five cards against us," added Allardyce.

"But unfortunately when we come to places like this they are very good at swaying things their way."

And Allardyce mounted a stern defence of his pre-match comments about Liverpool.

"It was only because Liverpool have a go at me and because I am entitled to respond when I get criticised by Rafa Benitez," said the Rovers boss.

"If you don't understand that over the last few years you must be deluded.

"Not this time but many other times I have been criticised personally by the manager - all I said was they got six bookings at Manchester City away so they are digging games out now rather than the flowing football they played last year."

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina sustained a shoulder injury after the break challenging for the ball but was able to carry on.

"We knew it would be a tough game and nothing surprised us," he said.

RKW - Bred Pole

"They play that way and to be honest I felt a little under-protected, but the most important thing was that we won."

The win lifted Liverpool to within one point of Tottenham as they continue the battle for fourth spot - and saw Torres start a game for the first time since 13 January.

"We know it will be tough until the end but we have to keep going," added Benitez.

"But it is always important to have players back and feeling fresh."

Rovers have won once away from home in the Premier League this season - and Allardyce pointed to a lack of composure in front of goal when explaining his team's failure to take something from Anfield.

"Our problem is that we did not have a goalscorer to finish off our good work and chances," he said. "If we did we would have had a draw at least.

"That has been our downfall away from home all season. It was disappointing we did not convert at least one of our openings before Gerrard opened the scoring.

"In the second half we again did more than them but our failure in front of goal cost us."

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Premier League table snapshot

As it stood on 28 Feb 2010 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 28 39 61
2 Man Utd 28 42 60
3 Arsenal 28 35 58
4 Tottenham 28 23 49
5 Man City 27 17 49
6 Liverpool 28 17 48
7 Aston Villa 26 16 45
8 Birmingham 27 -2 40
9 Fulham 28 3 38
10 Everton 27 0 38
11 Stoke 27 -5 34
12 Blackburn 28 -15 34
13 West Ham 27 -8 27
14 Sunderland 27 -12 27
15 Bolton 27 -19 26
16 Wigan 27 -27 25
17 Wolves 27 -24 24
18 Hull 27 -29 24
19 Burnley 27 -29 23
20 Portsmouth 27 -22 19

see also
Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn
28 Feb 10 |  Premier League
Ferguson turns up heat on Benitez
17 Apr 09 |  Man Utd
Sunday's football photos
28 Feb 10 |  Football
Sunday football as it happened
28 Feb 10 |  Football