Reds hurt by actions not words
Al Jazeera's Carrie Brown on a bad Champs League night for Benitez after French jibes.
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2009 13:10 GMT

Houllier: Not the Lyon manager [AFP]
The French newspaper Le Parisien ran an article on matchday bemoaning the ignorance of Liverpool fans ahead of their clash against Lyon.

Journalist Julien Laurens' gripe – that the majority of fans he questioned in the English city still believed ex-Liverpool coach Gerrard Houllier was managing the French club.

Houllier left in 2007.

Also, the Liverpool fans Laurens encountered were unable to name a current Lyon player.

A number of fans assumed Karim Benzema was still at the Ligue 1 club – but the Frenchman was one of Real Madrid's summer signings. 

Satisfied grin 

Laurens left Anfield on Tuesday night wearing a satisfied grin.

His departure was preceeded by Liverpool's fans, many of whom spilled out of the ground in number well ahead of the final whistle, ahead indeed of the final goal.
Before the match Rafael Benitez dismissed talks of a goal-scoring crisis, blaming injuries for three defeats without a goal.

The Liverpool coach confidently affirmed the hosts would record a win over Lyon, confidence bourne from the return of influential captain Steven Gerrard.

The England midfielder appeared to have shaken off a groin injury in time for the European Champions League fixture while leading marksman Fernando Torres is expected to return for Sunday's Premier League match against leaders Manchester United.
Unfortunately Benitez's injury crisis had merely been put on ice.

Defender Glen Johnson was added to the casualty list on matchday and just 25 minutes into the game Gerrard's welcomed return appeared premature, perhaps reckless.

Liverpool's captain walked tentatively into the tunnel en route to the physio table while substitute Aurelio took to the field.

Hosts ahead
Liverpool picked up their game in Gerrard's absence with Yossi Benayoun putting the hosts ahead shortly before the break.

Lyon though were lethal on the counter attack, exploiting every opportunity to press forward and they were rewarded with the equaliser 18 minutes before the end.

The home fans poured out of the stadium, shoulders down, well before the 90th minute – with one loyal steward politely, though sarcastically, bidding them farewell. 

Carragher was bullish about Liverpool's next match against Man Utd [AFP]
Journalists are also guilty of leaving their seats before full-time to get into position to interview players as they leave the pitch.

This is a manoeuvre conducted with heart in mouth. Inevitably these are the minutes when the match is truly won.

I was en-route to the tunnel, via the outside perimeter of the ground, when Lyon substitue Cesar Delgado found the winner in added time.

My poor timing however, did afford me an opportunity to witness a profound image.

A stream of Liverpool fans looking over their shoulders and back to the ground they'd departed in anguish.
"Disappointing" was the word Benitez repeatedly used to describe the defeat although he did not downplay its significance.

Perilous position

The Liverpool coach admitting the Anfield club's position in the Champions League is perilous and that only victory in all of their remaining three games will secure their progress to the knock-out stage.
Benitez is not typical of most Champions League managers.

Faced with the prospect of a barrage of awkward questions many would opt to avoid the one-on-one interview requests put forward by rights-holding television reporters and head straight for the obligatory press conference.

Benitez, however, honoured every one. It can not have been a pleasant experience.
The Spaniard can, at least, take heart from an impressive first start from Martin Kelly at right back.

The 20-year-old proved a capable deputy for Glenn Johnson.

Cris was kept in hospital overnight [AFP]
Yet despite great efforts, Ngog and Kuyt are clearly no replacement for Torres and Gerrard and Benitez's denials that his squad lacks depth sound equally as weak.
Torres (abductor strain) and Johnson (groin strain) are expected to be fit for Sunday's Anfield encounter with Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Gerrard's substitution is believed to have come in time to entertain the possibility of the captain recovering from his groin strain, at least starting on the bench, but Benitez will be wary of rushing his star player back so soon.
Jamie Carragher however was defiantly upbeat about Liverpool's chances against the Premier League title holders.

When asked if Liverpool could realistically take three points without either Torres and Gerrard he replied: "We did last season."

Then, Liverpool recorded a 2-1 victory at Anfield with Torres and Gerrard on the bench. 
But what hope against Lyon away? Liverpool travel to their vanquishers in two weeks time.

Cris worry

The Ligue 1 side are waiting on the health of Brazilian defender Cris.

Cris fell into the path of Liverpool midfielder Dirk Kuyt and received a brutal blow to the head.

He was shown a yellow card for his unintentional challenge and played on.

In the second half, however, he was taken to hospital with concussion and was to be kept under observation for 24 hours.

Benitez meanwhile will be hoping his two seemingly vital squad members regain full fitness while Liverpool's fans will certainly not be found guilty of underestimating their opponents on their trip across the channel.

Al Jazeera
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