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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 08:03 GMT
Benitez lauds Liverpool's display
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez and captain Steven Gerrard
Benitez said Steven Gerrard and the players deserved the credit
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez said his players deserved all the credit after knocking out Barcelona to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

The holders won the second leg 1-0 at Anfield, but Liverpool's 2-1 win in the Nou Camp saw them go through.

"My players produced almost a perfect performance," said Benitez.

"There will be seven very good sides left in the draw with us and we will be a match for anyone. I am really proud of my players and the fans as well."

As at the Nou Camp, Benitez appeared to out-think Barca counterpart Frank Rijkaard.

The Catalan side needed two goals to get through but, though they had plenty of possession, they managed only four shots on target while Liverpool finished with double that tally and hit the post twice.

However, Benitez would not be drawn on whether he had won the tactical battle with Rijkaard.

He said: "I do not like to talk of battles with managers, I was happy with the way I set up my side and everyone played their part but it is about what players do, not what managers do.

606: DEBATE

"We deserved to score, we coped well under that level of pressure and over two legs we have shown we are better than a team considered the best in the world."

Rijkaard, now under severe pressure at Barca after seeing his side lose the lead in La Liga on Saturday, offered only grudging praise for Liverpool.

"Liverpool produced a great performance. I do not see it as being progressive, they are very direct while being mentally strong and motivated," said the Dutchman.

"Other teams will not like playing them. With luck they can beat anyone in the competition."

He added: "We won this leg, but maybe we were lucky considering the amount of chances they created in the first half.

"We tried everything possible and I am proud of the spirit and effort my players put in. They worked hard and tried everything, but Liverpool are a difficult team to play against."

The match at Anfield was watched by Liverpool's new American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks - the latter on his first visit to the stadium.

"What a great game to start with," he said.

"George and I are thrilled to be here with our sons. There couldn't be a better match."

SEE ALSO
How Benitez beat Barca
07 Mar 07 |  Europe
Champions League clockwatch
06 Mar 07 |  Europe
Tuesday's football photos
06 Mar 07 |  Football
Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool
21 Feb 07 |  Europe


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