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Page last updated at 07:37 GMT, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Reds boss hails domestic potency

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez
Benitez has enjoyed stunning success in Europe with Liverpool

Rafael Benitez has hailed the quality of the Premier League after Liverpool became the fourth English club to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

The Reds joined Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in the last eight by beating Inter Milan 3-0 on aggregate.

"This win shows the power and strength of the Premier League," said Benitez.

"We have fine clubs who are among the best in Europe, a league that is the same and players of quality who are some of the best in Europe."

No country has ever had four representatives in the quarter-finals of Europe's top club competition before.

England (2000/01 and 2006/07), Germany (1997/98), Italy (2004/05 and 2005/06) and Spain (1999/2000, 2000/01, 20001/02 and 2002/03) have all had three in the past.


And England had three sides - Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool - reach the semi-finals last season, although AC Milan eventually came out on top.

But to have four teams through is unprecedented and, according to Benitez, highlights the growing influence of the Premier League.

He also thinks his side have a better chance of tasting success in Europe than at home.

"For us the Champions League is a bit easier because we can be concentrated in two games," said the Spaniard, who guided the Reds to success in the tournament in 2005.

"In the Premier League, the top three English clubs are tough and it is hard every game. The difference is the Premier League is for nine months."

We've beaten possibly the best team in Europe

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher

Defender Jamie Carragher insists Liverpool have proved they can win the Champions League again by beating Inter.

"We've beaten possibly the best team in Europe," said the Englishman, who was making his 100th appearance in Europe on Tuesday night.

"On domestic form they are top of their league and have only lost one game. But we've proved it again. We've proved in the last three years we are as good as anyone in Europe."

The Reds wrapped up a comfortable win on aggregate by triumphing 1-0 in the San Siro thanks to a second-half goal from Fernando Torres.

The Spaniard has now scored eight goals in his last five games, but Benitez says he may need to be rested at crucial times between now and the end of the season.

"He will start almost every game, but it depends on the time. Sometimes you need to protect players, too," said Benitez.

"If you have two games in a week with huge intensity, it's not easy. We will play in four days against Reading at Anfield and I think he will play."

The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals will be held on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland.

The other four sides through are Barcelona (Spain), Roma (Italy), Fenerbahce (Turkey) and Schalke (Germany).

see also
Inter Milan 0-1 Liverpool (0-3)
11 Mar 08 |  Europe
Mancini reveals Inter quit plan
11 Mar 08 |  Europe
Liverpool Player Rater
15 Dec 06 |  Live Text
Champions League photos
11 Mar 08 |  Europe
Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan
19 Feb 08 |  Europe
Debate: English supremacy?
06 Mar 08 |  Football

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