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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Real Betis 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool struck two early goals to make a winning start to their Champions League group campaign at Real Betis.

Florent Sinama Pongolle lobbed a clever finish after 87 seconds, before Luis Garcia finished a crisp move with a left-foot flourish in the 14th minute.

Peter Crouch impressed watching England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, but Liverpool had to survive severe late pressure.

Garcia Arzu pulled a goal back for Betis five minutes after the break, but resilient Liverpool held on.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez sprang surprises in his starting line-up, leaving Steven Gerrard and Djibril Cisse on the bench, and handing a starting place to Pongolle.

And the young French striker justified his shock selection inside two minutes, when he put Liverpool ahead.

Jamie Carragher's long clearance allowed Crouch to cause confusion in the Betis rearguard and Pongolle took advantage to lift a clever finish over Antonio Doblas.

Djimi Traore, also playing his first game of the season, then made a brilliant saving tackle to deny Fernando before Liverpool stunned Betis by doubling their lead.

Garcia crowned a slick link between Crouch and Bolo Zenden with a first-time finish that flashed low past Doblas.

Liverpool played the rest of the first half in relative comfort, although Pepe Reina saved well from Fernando and Fernando Varela before surviving a goalmouth scramble.

Betis, inevitably, came out firing after the break and were back in contention after 50 minutes when a brilliant pass from substitute Dani set up Arzu to beat Reina.

Benitez made a series of changes to try and stem the Betis momentum, sending on Cisse for Crouch, John Arne Riise for Zenden, and finally Gerrard for Pongolle.

Cisse then showed great pace to trouble the Betis defence, but wasted a glorious opportunity to play in the unmarked Garcia.

Real Betis: Doblas, Melli, Juanito (Xisco 45), Rivas, Oscar Lopez, Arzu (Capi 72), Fernando (Dani 35), Assuncao, Joaquin, Varela, Oliveira.
Subs Not Used: Contreras, Miguel Angel, Nano, Castellini.

Goals: Arzu 51.

Liverpool: Reina, Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Luis Garcia, Sissoko, Alonso, Zenden (Riise 66), Sinama Pongolle (Gerrard 74), Crouch (Cisse 58).
Subs Not Used: Carson, Finnan, Hamann, Warnock.

Booked: Carragher, Reina.

Goals: Sinama Pongolle 2, Luis Garcia 14.

Att: 45,000.

Ref: Konrad Plautz (Austria).

Interview: Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

Interview: Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle


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