Liverpool join last eight

Fernando Torres seals a 3-0 aggregate victory at the San Siro.

    The victor and the vanquished: Fernando Torres, right
    and Inter Milan's Julio Cesar [AFP] 
    Spanish striker Fernando Torres scored a second-half goal to give Liverpool a 1-0 victory over 10-man Inter Milan and send the Reds into the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals.

    Liverpool, which won the tournament in 2005 and lost in the final last year, advanced with a 3-0 aggregate after winning 2-0 at Anfield in the first leg three weeks ago.

    Torres controlled a cross inside the area and beat Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar with a low shot in the 64th minute.

    Inter played the last 40 minutes a man down after defender Nicolas Burdisso was sent off with his second yellow card.

    Liverpool joins three other English Premier League teams; Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, in the quarterfinals, making this the first time four teams from the same country have made it to the final eight.

    "It shows the quality of the Premier League, especially the quality of the top four to be in the eight best teams in Europe,'' Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez said.

    "The quality of the teams and the players and everything in the Premier League is really good.”

    Inter and Liverpool played a week after the other Champions League games to avoid games with English teams played on consecutive days at Milan's San Siro stadium, the home of both Inter and AC Milan.

    Arsenal defeated Milan last week 2-0 at San Siro.

    Wasted chances

    Both teams pushed for an early goal: Inter seeking to quickly reduce the first-leg deficit and Liverpool trying to all but decide the issue.

    Inter created the best chances in the first half with Julio Cruz coming close on two occasions.

    In the 30th, he shot just wide from the side of the box with teammate Dejan Stankovic unmarked in front of the goal, and in the 43rd when he attempted a no-look, behind-the-back shot that Arsenal goalkeeper Pepe Reina was well positioned to save.

    But Inter's offensive forays left it vulnerable to counters and Liverpool twice exploited the openings but failed to convert.

    Julio Cesar needed to come outside his area in the 25th to cut off a long pass intended for Ryan Babel, and three minutes later blocked a close-range shot from Torres.

    "It was a difficult match because Inter is strong, but with 10 players it was hard for them to look for the goal they needed,'' Benitez said.

    "We are going through a good period at the moment, certainly better than Inter.''

    Tough period

    Inter, which had made the Champions League quarterfinals in four of the last six years, also played more than half of the first leg with 10 players on the field after Marco Materazzi received two yellow cards.

    Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, its fourth straight victory in the league since defeating Inter in the first leg.

    Inter leads Italy's Serie A by six points, but struggled to beat next-to-last Reggina 2-0 Saturday and was saved by a stellar performance by Julio Cesar.

    Inter had been without a win in its previous three league games, including its first loss of the season to Napoli.

    "I wouldn't say it was comfortable. They are a good team,'' Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said.

    "If you look at our form over the season we're slightly inconsistent in the league but we're a force in Europe so I don't think a lot of people are going to want to play us in the last eight.''

    FC Barcelona, AS Roma, Schalke and Fenerbahce also have made it to the quarterfinals.

    The quarterfinal draw will be made on Friday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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