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Benitez defends penalty decision

Steven Gerrard clashes with Mariano Pernia
Gerrard won a 95th-minute penalty after a clash with Pernia

Boss Rafael Benitez insisted referee Martin Hansson was right to award Liverpool a late penalty that secured them a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

Deep into injury time, Mariano Pernia was judged to have fouled Steven Gerrard, which left Atletico fuming.

Benitez said: "Had that offence against Steven taken place in the middle of the pitch it would have been a free-kick, so it was a penalty.

"The key for us was not to lose in such a tight match."

The draw leaves Liverpool and Atletico tied on eight points at the top of Champions League Group G, but both sides missed the chance to seal their progress to the knockout stages.

A win for either side would have sent them through as PSV Eindhoven lost to Marseille in the other match in the group on Tuesday.

Benitez added: "We are still right up at the top with them, we can both qualify."

Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre refused to condemn referee Hansson for the late penalty decision which cost his side victory.

He said: "I was a long way from the incident so I could not see properly. But how things change in one minute of football.

"We were in the last 16 and Marseille had beaten PSV, and then we concede a penalty and it is snatched away, but we just have to keep on fighting.

"But I was still very happy with the team effort and the way we worked as a group, maybe we did not get the win we deserved.

"We have produced an outstanding team performance against a very good team and we are still very close to qualification."

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see also
Liverpool 1-1 Atletico Madrid
04 Nov 08 |  Europe
Liverpool Player Rater
15 Dec 06 |  Live Text
Champions League photos
04 Nov 08 |  Football
Champions League as it happened
04 Nov 08 |  Europe

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