Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Stevie’s glee is Howard’s dismay as Liverpool sneak draw

Liverpool 1 Everton 1

Rival Merseyside bosses Rafael Benitez and David Moyes clashed over the tactics used by Everton in forcing a replay in yesterday's FA Cup fourth-round showdown.

Liverpool boss Benitez was critical of Everton's defensive approach, over two derbies in a week, while Everton chief Moyes defended his actions.

The clubs must meet again in a replay at Goodison Park now on February 4 to decide who plays Doncaster or Aston Villa in the last 16.

But after seeing his team battle for two 1-1 draws against Everton in seven days, Benitez was clearly disappointed with the Toffees' ultra-defensive methods.

The Spaniard said: “One team was trying to win and the other team was trying not to lose.

“We dominated the game, controlled everything, but it was just one mistake and they have scored.

“They were coming for a draw, we were trying to win. It is hard against a team with 10 players always behind the ball, but I was very pleased with our performance.

“We know some teams will do the same thing and defend. We just have to learn to upset them and to attack.

“I am only bothered, though, about what we do. Whether we win or not. I have never played like that here, and never did this while I was at Valencia, maybe at Extremadura a few times.

“But I do not want to talk about this. I have my ideas and you can see it on the pitch."

Benitez was clearly making the point that such tactics are something that a small club like his former Spanish outfit would do, but not a major club.

Everton led at the break through a Joleon Lescott (below) header, but were denied victory by a stunning goal created by Fernando Torres’ sublime piece of skill and Steven Gerrard's emphatic finish.

Moyes, whose squad was weakened by suspensions and injuries to key players, defended his actions. He said: “It was a tough game, and now we have come to Anfield twice in a week and got draws.

“There has been a lot said about us not being in the next round, but we have given ourselves a good chance to go through now.

“I have never gone anywhere looking for a draw, I may have taken one in the end, but we look after our business and we do things with a bit of dignity at Everton. We got a good point in the league and we have taken a good side to a replay in the cup. From that point of view we are more than happy.”

He added: “We had a lot of players out and Liverpool, over the two games, had all their players available. They did not have any injuries.

“Now we have a few to come back. But there was very little we could try in the circumstances.

“We did not have the physical capabilities within what we had to do anything different. We would have liked to, but that was all we had.

“You face a side with a lot of big players, who have spent big to win trophies, so that makes it difficult for a side like Everton.

“You still cannot class Everton as favourites. But we are extremely resilient, we have faced a side with great aspirations of winning the title and we made it very hard for them to score.

“Liverpool had so much possession and played well. But I felt we were comfortable, defensively.” Confronted with further questioning about Benitez's dismissive reaction to Everton's tactics, Moyes curtly said: “This is a great club, and we do things with dignity and style. But they have a great chance of winning the championship.”

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