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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 15:20 GMT
Benitez backs Dudek after mistake
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez refused to blame keeper Jerzy Dudek after his latest error against Manchester United gifted them victory.

Dudek, with a history of mistakes against United, allowed Wayne Rooney's long-range effort to slide in.

Benitez said after the 1-0 defeat: "In big games you pay for mistakes and we paid, but I'm not blaming Jerzy.

"It is one of the unfortunate things in football that if a goalkeeper makes a mistake you have a big problem."

Benitez added: "For the first 20 minutes we played very well. We were controlling the game, but after their goal we became a bit nervous.

"It was always going to be difficult against a good team, but the players tried hard."

Benitez handed a start to 6.3m striker Fernando Morientes and said he expected the Spanish star to prove his worth, even though he failed to score on a debut for the first time.

"It was difficult in his first game but he never stopped trying," he said.

"He needs to get fit. He said he was very tired when he came off but he knows now how he must play in the Premiership and will get better with more training."

Benitez must decide now whether to give Morientes another full game at Burnley in the FA Cup on Tuesday in a bid to boost his match fitness.

"He can give us a different aspect to our game, in the air and with good passing. He needs to get to know his team-mates and they need to get to know him," he said.

Interview: Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher

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