Belfast Telegraph

Torres can fire Liverpool through: Benitez

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is backing striker Fernando Torres to end his European goal drought and fire his side into the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

The Spain international drew another blank in the 1-0 defeat in Lille on Thursday night, although that was partly due to the brilliance of French goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.

Torres' record in European competition is nowhere close to matching his domestic form, as in 30 appearances in the Champions and Europa League he has scored just 10 times.

He has not found the net in Europe since the 3-1 Champions League quarter-final defeat by Chelsea at Anfield on April 8.

That compares unfavourably with his incredible Barclays Premier League haul of 51 goals in 75 matches.

However, Benitez was pleased with Torres' performance in Lille and believes he could well prove to be the key figure as they attempt to overturn a one-goal deficit when the French club visit Anfield next Thursday.

“It was really important to see Fernando fighting from the beginning because it sent a very good message to the other players,” said the Liverpool manager, whose side entertain Portsmouth in the Premier League on Monday.

“He was trying to win balls in the air, running and chasing defenders and for the rest of the team that was a good message and maybe he can be an inspiration too.

“The main thing is the attitude. Any player in our team has attitude and they are good players and they can play well like Fernando. He is a top-class player, he has a good attitude and he can score and be a problem for all defenders.

“At home normally you are attacking more and have more options and opportunities so for a striker it is easier.”

Benitez expects his team to have to do all the running in the return leg at Anfield as he believes Lille will be less offensively-minded with a 1-0 lead to protect.

“I think they will wait, try to play counter-attack because they know they have pace,” he said.

“We know a clean sheet will be important for us but to score one, two or maybe three goals will be necessary.”

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