Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'We Just Didn't Want to Lose' Benitez Praises Reds as They See off the Champions

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'We Just Didn't Want to Lose' Benitez Praises Reds as They See off the Champions

Article excerpt

Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0 RAFAEL Benitez has revealed that it was only on the team coach going to Anfield that he decided to use Spanish striker Fernando Torres from the start against Manchester United.

The under-pressure Liverpool boss waited until the last moment before deciding Torres, who was struggling with a groin injury, could cope with a battle against the Barclays Premier League champions that could make or break his side's season.

After the 2-0 win, Benitez said: "In the morning I had decided that he would be involved, but I needed convincing he could start rather than just be a substitute.

"I talked with Fernando on the coach, and that was when I was really convinced that he could play.

"Playing Fernando was a difficult decision. He was not training, the same as Steven Gerrard.

"But after talking with him we decided it was better to start the game with him." Defeat would have meant Liverpool's worst run since 1953, when they were relegated from the top flight.

But Torres ensured a first win from five attempts by firing the opener in the victory. Substitute David Ngog added a second in stoppage time after Nemanja Vidic and Javier Mascherano had both been sent off in a fierce confrontation between English football's bitterest rivals.

Benitez decided it was better to begin the match with Torres short of fitness, rather than try to cope without him.

"You could see he was not 100% fit, but sometimes 80% of Fernando can make a difference," added the manager.

The moment Torres got away from Rio Ferdinand to fire in the opener in the 65th minute was the key, said Benitez, who believes his Reds side were deserved winners.

"Small details against such good opposition can be the difference," he said. "They had some early chances, but we were on top of them from the beginning.

"But when Fernando scored the goal, that made the difference. …

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