Benayoun seals vital away win

25 February 2009 07:15
iverpool earned a precious away victory against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu as Yossi Benayoun headed the only goal of the game. [LNB] If there was uncertainty regarding Rafa Benitez's future leading up to the game there was nothing uncertain with his side's performance in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie.[LNB]The five-time European Cup winners frustrated their opponents as they were reluctant to commit numbers forward during the 90 minutes.[LNB]But the meticulous Benitez will know that it is results that matter and Benayoun snatched the win when he headed in Fabio Aurelio's free-kick on 82 minutes.[LNB]In truth the Merseysiders were rarely troubled at the back as they restricted Real to long-range efforts for the majority of the match and Liverpool will be confident of finishing the job off at Anfield next month.[LNB]The hosts nearly got a dream start as Arjen Robben drifted in from the right-hand side and slipped a ball behind Liverpool centre-half Martin Skrtel but recipient Raul saw his right-foot shot go straight into Pepe Reina's arms.[LNB]Liverpool offered little as an attacking threat in the early stages until Fernando Torres warmed the hands of Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas on 20 minutes.[LNB]DeniedAs the Real defence stepped up and unsuccessfully appealed for offside Torres advanced on Casillas but his shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area across goal was tipped wide by the Spanish stopper.[LNB]Despite Real dominating possession in the opening half an hour the Merseysiders looked comfortable at 0-0 with their defence easily repelling anything that their hosts conjured up.[LNB]The Spanish champions did manage to have the ball in the back of the net on 29 minutes when striker Gonzalo Higuain headed home a Sergio Ramos knock-down from a corner but his effort was ruled out for offside.[LNB]Robben was the next player to threaten the Liverpool goal when he skipped past the challenge of Albert Riera but his shot from all of 25 yards was always veering away from Pepe Reina's right-hand post.[LNB]Rafa Benitez's men nearly shot themselves in the foot two minutes before the break when a well worked short corner between Robben and Lassana Diarra was nearly deflected into his own net by Riera.[LNB]The last action of the first-half saw Xabi Alonso come close when he spotted Casillas off his line and tried an audacious effort from the half-way that the back peddling keeper managed to tip over for a corner.[LNB]CreativeIn a bid to add a bit of creative spark to their play Real introduced midfielder Guti in place of Marcelo for the start of the second half but the change did little to alter the Spanish sides fortunes.[LNB]The early exchanges of the second period saw both sides struggling to keep the ball as the Bernabeu crowd began to vent their frustration every time a pass failed to find a white shirt.[LNB]Liverpool began to sense that they could perhaps get more than a goalless draw as they hit their beleaguered opponents on the break with Benayoun leading the charge on 58 minutes.[LNB]The Israeli accelerated away from his marker before slipping in Riera on the left-hand side but the winger's cross-shot took a deflection and fell kindly to Pepe in the Real area.[LNB]It was clear that if Real were going to cut Liverpool open it was going to come from Robben and the Dutch winger cut inside on 70 minutes and unleashed a dangerous left-footed effort from outside the area which Reina had to tip over.[LNB]Liverpool began to look more menacing on the counter-attack as their hosts pressed for an opening and Benitez's men scored the crucial away goal with eight minutes remaining.[LNB]A Fabio Aurelio free-kick on the left-hand touchline was curled in and found an unmarked Benayoun five yards out. The 28-year-old could not believe his luck as he was handed the freedom of the penalty area and he duly headed home.[LNB][LNB][LNB]Real Madrid[LNB]Team Statistics[LNB]Liverpool[LNB][LNB][LNB]0[LNB]Goals[LNB]1[LNB][LNB][LNB]0[LNB]1st Half Goals[LNB]0[LNB][LNB][LNB]5[LNB]Shots on Target[LNB]4[LNB][LNB][LNB]9[LNB]Shots off Target[LNB]3[LNB][LNB][LNB]1[LNB]Blocked Shots[LNB]3[LNB][LNB][LNB]7[LNB]Corners[LNB]2[LNB][LNB][LNB]13[LNB]Fouls[LNB]19[LNB][LNB][LNB]2[LNB]Offsides[LNB]3[LNB][LNB][LNB]2[LNB]Yellow Cards[LNB]3[LNB][LNB][LNB]0[LNB]Red Cards[LNB]0[LNB][LNB][LNB]83.9[LNB]Passing Success[LNB]73.8[LNB][LNB][LNB]17[LNB]Tackles[LNB]49[LNB][LNB][LNB]82.4[LNB]Tackles Success[LNB]73.5[LNB][LNB][LNB]59.1[LNB]Possession[LNB]40.9[LNB][LNB][LNB]49.6[LNB]Territorial Advantage[LNB]50.4[LNB][LNB][LNB][LNB][LNB][LNB]

Source: SKY_Sports