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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Learn from their mistakes: Benitez

Rafa Benitez warned his Liverpool players they must learn from their sloppy Champions League draw at Porto.

sports Updated: Sep 19, 2007 20:12 IST
Steve Griffiths
Steve Griffiths

Rafa Benitez warned his Liverpool players they must learn from their sloppy Champions League draw at Porto.

Benitez's side were fortunate to escape from the Dragao Stadium with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday after being punished for a lacklustre start.

They fell behind to Lucho Gonzalez's early penalty and, although Dirk Kuyt equalised later in the first half, Jermaine Pennant's needless sending off on the hour summed up a underwhelming display by last season's Champions League runners-up.

Benitez knows Liverpool will have to improve vastly if they are to reach a third European final in four years and he will emphasise that message on the flight home.

The only crumb of comfort for the Spanish coach was the way his resilient team held on for a point in arguably their toughest Group A assignment.

"I haven't seen the other teams yet so it is difficult to say who is the best team in the group," Benitez said. "But we were playing against a good team so we have to be happy.

"The point is good because playing with 10 men against good players with pace and ability is not easy.

"I don't know why we were so bad in the first half because the warm-up was ok, but we made too many mistakes.

"We needed to show character and we did. We have to learn from the positives in the second half."

Pennant must have breathed a sign of relief that Liverpool's defenders, led by the imperious Jamie Carragher, managed to bail him out.

Benitez didn't even look at Pennant as the winger trudged off after earning a second booking for a rash lunge on Fucile as he shepherded the ball out for a goal-kick.

The Spanish coach made it clear he had told Pennant not to commit himself to a challenge unless he was certain he could win the ball, so it was especially galling to see him do the exact opposite.

"The sending off was right," Benitez said. "Jermaine made a mistake and he will learn from the experience. Maybe it will be positive for him in the future.

"It is clear he did not need to make the tackle. We were talking to him about staying on his feet. It was difficult to understand but he will learn."

While Pennant's woes were self-inflicted it was hard to recalled a less effective club display from Steven Gerrard.

The Liverpool captain, who is obviously still struggling with his broken toe, admitted his side were fortunate.

"I'm disappointed with the way we played," Gerrard said. "We didn't start well and never got going in the first half.

"But I'm glad to take a point. A point away in the Champions League is never a bad result."

Liverpool were caught cold and fell behind in the eighth minute when Tarik Sektioui easily beat Sami Hyypia to Ricardo Quaresma's clever pass.

Sektioui was clear on goal and he clipped the ball round Reina before being sent sprawling by the Liverpool keeper.

It was a clear penalty and Porto captain Lucho stepped up to send Reina the wrong way from the spot.

But Liverpool equalised in the 17th minute.

Hyypia looped Finnan's free-kick across goal to Kuyt and the Dutch striker got in front of Joao Paulo to plant a close-range header past Nuno.

Liverpool could have few complaints when Pennant was dismissed in the 58th minute. He had already been booked, so his lunge on Fucile was foolhardy in the extreme.

Inevitably the visitors were forced back but Porto came no closer than a Quaresma chip that Hyypia hacked away.

Jesualdo Ferreira believes the Portuguese champions will grow in confidence after a promising performance.

Although the Porto coach conceded his team had missed an opportunity for an invaluable victory, he was encouraged by the way they dominated one of Europe's top sides.

"A draw against Liverpool is ok, but if you look at the game we could have won it," Ferreira said.

"It was our first game and it is always difficult against Liverpool but we were superior at all times.

"We didn't have many chances after the sending off but we tried to win the match."

First Published: Sep 19, 2007 20:09 IST