Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

We can still do it, say Rafa and Gerrard

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and captain Steven Gerrard today insisted they can still reach the Champions League decider despite heartbreak in the semi-final against Chelsea.

Leading 1-0 through Dirk Kuyt's goal, Liverpool looked comfortable until in the 95th minute, substitute John Arne Riise headed into his own net to give Avram Grant's side a 1-1 draw at Anfield and a vital away goal.

In six previous Champions League ties between the sides, the visitors had failed to score. How ironic that an own goal broke that particular duck.

With the Stamford Bridge leg to come next Wednesday, Chelsea are now favourites to go through to the final, but Benitez and Gerrard have warned not to write off European experts Liverpool even though under the Spaniard they have never scored at the London venue.

Benitez said: "Yes, I realise we have not scored a goal at Chelsea in the Champions League over the past four seasons. But there is always a first time. If we play as well as we did in the first leg and take the chances we created, we will get to the final.

"We have confidence in ourselves. I am confident we can do it."

Skipper Gerrard was equally bullish.

He stated: "Obviously we're disappointed with the late goal but it's done. We've got to pick ourselves up. We've got to get a result at the weekend then give it everything we can at Stamford Bridge. We know this tie is not over.

"It's my job as captain to pick the boys up and make sure we're ready for next week.

"Let people say Chelsea are favourites, let them. We've got to block that out and do what we've got to do. We are confident we can beat Chelsea on their own patch."

That will take some doing but surely if Fernando Torres has the chances that he had last night, Liverpool could still go through, although all Kopites will hope that Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech isn't in such excellent form at the Bridge.

Benitez, who was critical of Austrian referee Konrad Plautz for giving so much added time, confirmed that he had held brief talks with co-owner Tom Hicks yesterday ahead of the first leg. He said: "I had a short discussion with Tom Hicks, and the idea now is to set up a meeting involving both owners so we can discuss the future. I believe that is possible and can be arranged."