Belfast Telegraph

Benitez not worried over prospect of Gerrard action

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is confident Steven Gerrard will escape retrospective action for a clash with Portsmouth midfielder Michael Brown in the 4-1 win at Anfield.

Fernando Torres scored his 14th and 15th in the Premier League this season with Ryan Babel and Aquilani - registering his first goal for the Reds - also on target before Nadir Belhadj's late consolation.

The victory was overshadowed slightly by Gerrard's apparent forearm to the back of Brown's neck in the second half, after which the Liverpool captain was immediately substituted by Benitez.

"I don't think so," said the Spaniard when asked if he was worried about retrospective action against his captain.

"I haven't seen it but I was asking and I think it was nothing."

Benitez also played down the immediate substitution of Gerrard, adding: "We were thinking of changing Torres, Glen Johnson and Gerrard and we did it."

Only a week ago Gerrard found himself in a similar situation for an alleged v-sign made at referee Andre Marriner in the defeat at Wigan.

That went no further as the official said he had seen the incident at the time and decided it did not warrant any action.

Tonight referee Stuart Attwell was very close to the incident but took no action but it remains to be seen whether he will be asked to look at it again by the Football Association.

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant said he also did not see the incident but felt Attwell should have spotted it.

"I didn't see it. I will speak with Michael Brown and then I will tell you," he said.

"They told me the referee was four metres away from this so I think the referee needs to see from four metres what I didn't from 40 metres," he said.

"Personally I like Steven Gerrard. I think he is a good player and a fair player."

Benitez was more happy to talk about his team's performance.

"It was a good game. We were trying to play well for the fans and score goals," he added.

"It was an important goal in an important week.

"It was really good for Aquilani and really good for the team. He has shown he has quality and he will have more confidence and that is good.

"We have seen a lot of players playing well today and that is good for me because it gives me more (selection) problems."

Grant refused to lay the blame on goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown, whose clearance straight to Gerrard set up Torres' first goal.

"Jamie is a good goalkeeper. I will not speak about mistakes because it is part of the game," he added.

"We started the game okay, we played how we wanted to play and then came the first goal and we lost our shape and they scored a second and third goal in seven minutes and the game was finished."

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