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Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 11:35 UK

Reds 'can halt jinx at Chelsea'

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Disappointed Benitez unhappy with ref

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes his side can overcome a poor record at Chelsea on 30 April to reach the Champions League final.

The Reds conceded an injury-time own goal by John Arne Riise in Tuesday's semi-final, first leg 1-1 draw at home.

They now go into the return leg needing to score - a feat they have not managed at Stamford Bridge under Benitez.

"We haven't scored there but that is just a statistic and maybe we can change that," said Benitez.

"Stamford Bridge is a difficult stadium for everyone. No-one has won there for two years but it is the Champions League so maybe we can manage.

"We know we have go to and win. It is not a case of thinking maybe we will be OK with a draw. That is a big difference."

606: DEBATE

Liverpool have failed to score in eight games at Stamford Bridge under the Spaniard, while Chelsea have not lost a Premier league match at their ground since a 2-1 defeat by Arsenal in February 2004.

They did lose to Charlton on penalties in a Carling Cup match in October 2005 and suffered a 2-1 reverse to Barcelona in the first leg of a Champions League last-16 tie in February 2006.

Riise's late blunder at Anfield in the 95th minute changed the complexion of the tie after Dirk Kuyt had put the Reds ahead in the first half.

Benitez added: "It was a difficult match and I was very disappointed with the referee (Konrad Plautz).

"He gave just one minute of injury time in the first period and four in the second. It was hard to understand."

Plautz also took charge of Liverpool's home defeat by Marseille in the group stages of the competition and a frustrated Benitez commented: "This was not the first time.

"We knew what to expect because we had him before against Marseille.

John Arne Riise
There are no fingers being pointed at John Arne

Steven Gerrard

"All the free-kicks seemed to go against us. The first four free-kicks against us were for pushing and then when one of their players (Ashley Cole) pushes one of our players in the back with both hands in the box, there's nothing.

"But we cannot blame the referee for our missed chances. We had at least four clear opportunities and we must score those.

"But we must now be positive and clear our minds. If we play like that at Stamford Bridge next week and take those chances, we will go through.

"We have confidence in ourselves. I am confident we can do it, I will recall the first 20 minutes of the second period when we were very much on top of Chelsea.

"If we can do that again at Stamford Bridge, we can still get to the final."

Reds skipper Steven Gerrard vowed to make Chelsea fight all the way when they meet again in the second leg.

And he also cited one major difference compared to past matches at Chelsea under Benitez.

"We haven't played there with Fernando Torres," said the midfielder.

"We have got to pick ourselves up and give everything we have got at Stamford Bridge but we believe this tie is not over.

"Let them say Chelsea are favourites. It is not important, we have just got to block it out. We know the job we have to do and we know we can beat them on their patch.

"We created better chances. Pepe Reina hasn't had anything to do but pick the ball out of the net late doors but Petr Cech made some good saves.

"If we had come off with a 1-0 win we had have still been disappointed."

Gerrard refused to put any blame on Riise for his mistake that handed a vital away goal to the Blues.

He said: "These ties are settled by small details and unfortunately that bit of luck has gone against us. Maybe we'll get some luck at Stamford Bridge.

"There are no fingers being pointed at John Arne."




see also
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
22 Apr 08 |  Europe
Champions League photos
22 Apr 08 |  Europe
Liverpool Player Rater
15 Dec 06 |  Live Text
Owner Hicks braves Anfield crowd
22 Apr 08 |  Liverpool
Lampard reveals family heartache
23 Apr 08 |  Football


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