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Benitez calms Anfield exit talk

Rafael Benitez
Benitez has hinted that he will remain at Liverpool

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has given a big hint he is prepared to commit his long-term future to the Anfield club.

The Spaniard has been locked in talks about a new contract for several weeks, prompting speculation he could leave.

But following Wednesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid, he said his future could be resolved soon.

He said: "My lawyers and advisors have been talking to the club's owners on Wednesday about the contract and I feel the problems we have can be overcome."

Benitez has been discussing a new four-year deal, but it is believed American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have balked at some of his demands.

That has led to wild speculation, some of which surfaced before Wednesday's game in Madrid.

A flurry of bets led some bookmakers to suspend betting on Benitez leaving Anfield before the end of the week.

But he insisted the rumours were wide of the mark and said talk of his exit came as a surprise.

"I can assure you that I have not been considering such a move, and it was a shock to hear such suggestions," said Benitez.

"It needs to be clear that I was not thinking of resigning. My aim is to keep working and winning and to tell the owners that on the pitch."

PHIL McNULTY BLOG
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

The former Valencia boss, who became Liverpool manager in 2004, is certain an agreement over his future will be reached.

"I expect talks to continue between my lawyers, my advisors, myself and the owners," said Benitez.

"I am really pleased with my position at the club, I have not been thinking about resigning.

"My aim is to win every game that is possible for this club, and my advisors will continue to talk. We will see what happens then.

"We are still talking, so we will see what happens. I was not thinking about resigning, obviously I cannot control other things that I could be fired, but I was just concentrating on the game.

"The club has made it clear this rumour was not true. That is important for everyone. Stability is the key if you want to be successful."

Yossi Benayoun gave Liverpool a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The Israeli headed home Fabio Aurelio's free-kick with eight minutes remaining.

"We knew they had problems at set pieces so we were trying to benefit from that," said Benitez. "Yossi is better in the air than people think."

The Reds boss, who left Steven Gerrard on the bench and revealed after the match that striker Fernando Torres had been injured early on, also praised the rest of the team.

"We knew it could be difficult because Real Madrid are a team with quality and we needed to work really hard," he said.

"We were trying to go also on the counter-attack because we knew how important it was to score an away goal.

"To see Torres limping from the first minute and without Steven Gerrard, it is a fantastic result."

Benitez expects Torres to miss Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough with his ankle injury, but believes Gerrard could start the game.

Real Madrid had won their last nine games under temporary manager Juande Ramos but rarely looked like breaking through the Liverpool defence as they struggled for any kind of fluency.

"We wanted to try and score a few goals for the second leg but Liverpool played their game and were very good in defence," said former Tottenham boss Ramos.

"They scored from a set-piece but it was meant to be a 0-0 as there were hardly any chances from either side.

"We were unlucky to concede and now we need to win in Anfield. We are behind in the tie, but it is far from over as we are capable of winning anywhere."

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see also
Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool
25 Feb 09 |  Europe
Champions League photos
25 Feb 09 |  Football
Ramos replaces Schuster at Real
09 Dec 08 |  Europe


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