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Page last updated at 23:07 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 00:07 UK

Benitez stays defiant after loss

Rafael Benitez
Benitez's problems are mounting after four successive defeats

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez remained in defiant mood, despite his side's Champions League 2-1 defeat by Lyon.

The Reds have now lost four successive games for the first time in 22 years and face a struggle to make it through to the knockout phase.

"We've come back before and we can do it again," said Benitez, whose side face Manchester United on Sunday.

"We now must be ready for the next game. I have confidence we have the quality to overcome these problems."

Liverpool suffered the loss of inspirational captain Steven Gerrard to injury after 24 minutes against Lyon but took the lead through Yossi Benayoun.

However, their fragile defence conceded a Maxime Gonalons header and an injury-time tap-in by Cesar Delgado as they lost a second Group E game.

FOOTBALL BLOG
BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

Liverpool are now languishing third in their Champions League group on three points, three behind second-placed Fiorentina and six adrift of Lyon, with three games to go.

Their Premier League prospects do not look any brighter after four defeats ahead of the visit by reigning champions United.

And, with right-back Glen Johnson joining key duo Fernando Torres and Gerrard as an injury concern, Benitez is under huge pressure to revive Liverpool's season.

Johnson was a late withdrawal before the Lyon defeat and was replaced by youngster Martin Kelly, who himself went off injured late in the game.

"We have to push players now, to keep working and to maintain our confidence," said Benitez.

"We just had too many problems before and during the game. Losing Glen Johnson before the match, and then Gerrard and Kelly during the match, was just too much to contend with.

"It was a difficult game with all our problems, and we had done well to be leading at the break. Then we had two or three chances soon after the interval.

"Had we scored, it would have changed everything."

The Spaniard also insisted he had not risked Gerrard unnecessarily to help the side's predicament.

"It was not a gamble to play Gerrard. He wanted to play and had trained normally for two games," added Liverpool's Spanish manager.

"He was given the all-clear by the doctor, and what happened was just bad luck. He felt something wrong in his groin, and it was wise to come off."

Liverpool will have to win when they come to Lyon in a fortnight - that will be a very hard game for us

Lyon manager Claude Puel

Some boos rang around Anfield when Benitez replaced Benayoun with Andriy Voronin, but the Reds boss defended the switch: "The fans know Yossi is a good player, but I felt he was getting a little tired and I wanted to use some fresh legs.

"We needed to change something, to put a fresher man on - and it was a chance worth taking."

Lyon had their own injury setback when Brazilian centre-back Cris was stretchered off with concussion shortly after Liverpool had taken the lead.

"Cris has had scans on his head. He was unconscious, but he has improved," said Lyon coach Claude Puel.

"Despite that problem, it was an excellent performance. It was a tough match, decided by fine details.

"They put us under a lot of pressure with crosses and high balls into the box, and they took the lead. But we kept our organisation and our shape, and slowly maintained more possession.

606: DEBATE

"We were the better side in the second period - and we deserved the win.

"But I do not believe we have already qualified. Liverpool will have to win when they come to Lyon in a fortnight - that will be a very hard game for us, because Liverpool will be going for it and attacking."



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see also
Liverpool 1-2 Lyon
20 Oct 09 |  Europe
Champions League photos
20 Oct 09 |  Europe
Tuesday football as it happened
20 Oct 09 |  Football
Tuesday's Champions League review
20 Oct 09 |  Europe
Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool
17 Oct 09 |  Premier League
Fiorentina 2-0 Liverpool
29 Sep 09 |  Europe
Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool
04 Oct 09 |  Premier League


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