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Reds boss Rafael Benitez insists Liverpool are united

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Under-fire Benitez defends players

Rafael Benitez has moved to play down suggestions that there are problems inside the Liverpool dressing room.

"I was very pleased," said boss Benitez after Liverpool drew 1-1 with Stoke. "It's is something we can build on.

"Talk of problems in the dressing room are not true. You could see the response from the players' point.

"Is someone saying there is a problem with Steven Gerrard? Not true. He was here today supporting the team, that says everything."

The Liverpool players were clearly angry in the tunnel after the final whistle but forward Dirk Kuyt also moved to dismiss any rumours of dressing-room discontent.

The fans are amazing and if I decide to stay it will be because of them

Rafael Benitez

Asked what they were so annoyed about, Kuyt replied: "That we gave a goal away and also didn't win. I had a great chance to score another goal, so it's just really disappointing.

"We wanted to get the three points today and it didn't happen."

Benitez meanwhile paid tribute to the Liverpool fans following the game and has vowed to fight on in their honour after his side's latest setback.

Liverpool were denied a vital victory after Robert Huth's last-minute equaliser rescued a point for Stoke.

"The fans are amazing and if I decide to stay it will be because of them. I will fight until the end and will keep going," Benitez told BBC Sport.

"Sometimes you have bad moments and now is the time we have to show character."

Benitez's position at Anfield has come under increasing pressure following Liverpool's early exit from the Champions League, their faltering league campaign as well as Wednesday's third-round FA Cup exit to Championship strugglers Reading.

And with Liverpool again failing to take maximum points in the league on Saturday and close the gap on the team in fourth place the speculation surrounding his future continues.

606: DEBATE

Benitez admitted to being disappointed at his side's draw but was still pleased with the performance of his players. The Spaniard also felt his side should have had two penalties during the game.

"We were so close to winning the game so you have to be disappointed," said Benitez.

"But we were denied two clear penalties, everyone can see this.

"Stoke are very tough and physical and with the players we had out there I think we did a very good job.

"We had to show character. I am pleased with the players and for the supporters because we have to give them something."

Benitez's cause has not been helped by injuries to key trio Fernando Torres, Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun leaving him short of attacking options.

And eyebrows were raised at his negative team selection for Saturday's match with £20m midfielder Alberto Aquilani and new signing Maxi Rodriguez starting on the bench.

To concede in the last minute and even miss a great chance in the last minute is unbelievable

Dirk Kuyt

"It is not easy on this type of pitch and also when you lose so many players," added Benitez.

"So I'm pleased with the players we had out there on the pitch. The fans are behind the team and that is the main thing for us."

Kuyt also admitted the draw felt like a defeat because of the lateness of the equaliser.

"Yes, of course it feels like a defeat," said Kuyt.

"We aren't playing the best football at the moment, but I thought we fought really hard for this result, and to concede in the last minute and even miss a great chance in the last minute is unbelievable."



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see also
Benitez & Babel in tweet fall-out
15 Jan 10 |  Liverpool
Stoke 1-1 Liverpool
16 Jan 10 |  Premier League
Benitez feels sorry for Reds fans
15 Jan 10 |  Liverpool
Torres knee operation rocks Reds
14 Jan 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool sign winger Rodriguez
13 Jan 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 1-2 Reading (aet)
13 Jan 10 |  FA Cup


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