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Furious Benitez calls Robben a cheat

Liverpool coach furiously accused the Dutch of cheating after watching his team lose to Chelsea 2-0.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 13:39 IST

Rafael Benitez furiously accused Arjen Robben of cheating after watching Liverpool lose a stormy Premiership clash with Chelsea 2-0 on Sunday.

The Reds manager was angered after his goalkeeper Jose Reina was sent off for flicking his hand into Robben's face with eight minutes of the game remaining.

Reina appeared to make minimal contact, but the Dutch winger fell to the ground clutching his head as a scuffle broke out between the two sets of players.

The incident enraged Benitez, who claimed that Robben had deliberately attempted to get Reina sent off by feigning injury.

"I must go to hospital because obviously Robben's injury is so serious he will be there for a week," Benitez said.

"Reina made a mistake in turning and touching his face, but it looked like he had broken his neck the way he reacted. It's crazy. What kind of professional can you be when you make another professional miss three games for that incident?

"There was no need. They had won the game and now Reina has to miss matches which is crazy. Reina has made a mistake and I am very clear about this but he was provoked by what was said to him."

The Spanish manager also criticised the referee Alan Wiley's handling of the situation.

"I have an idea of what should be done, but it is up to the FA to do something about it," he added.

"The referee must have more experience for this sort of game. It was a nothing incident and we will appeal it if we can."

Benitez's comments are almost certain to be investigated by the Football Association, who fined Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho last season for accusing the Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy of cheating.

Mourinho predictably took a different view of the incident, suggesting that Benitez had allowed defeat to cloud his judgement.

"I'm not interested in Rafa Benitez's comments," he said.

"Sometimes managers say things they don't mean, especially after they lose, so I'm not getting involved with it."

The Portuguese was delighted with the way his team roared back to form after drawing their previous two Premiership matches.

Chelsea were forced to weather an early Liverpool storm at Stamford Bridge, but after Sami Hyypia and Peter Crouch had sent headers sailing over the bar, the home side took control.

French defender William Gallas fired them in front after he collected Ricardo Carvalho's nod-down, spun and shot in from close range.

Joe Cole missed a fine chance and Hernan Crespo saw a goal disallowed as Chelsea began to turn the screw, but the Argentine had to wait until the second half to notch his 11th goal of the season.

The Argentine seized Asier Del Horno's lobbed pass, raced into the penalty area and drilled his shot low past Reina to seal Chelsea's win and send them 18 points clear at the top of the Premiership— a lead Mourinho believes to be unassailable.

"We should have won the game by three or four goals and we played very well," he added.

"It has proved we are the best team in the league. We have not been having bad results. We have not been winning, but we have been getting points in difficult games, so our bad' run was still a positive run.

"This was a game we wanted to win, but we certainly didn't have to prove anything.

"We need eight wins to win the title and we are counting down for that. If we are to lose the title now we have to lose five games and I don't believe that will happen."

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 10:53 IST