Benitez drops group hint

27 November 2008 07:39
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has suggested he will not go all out to win the group after seeing his side qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Marseille. Steven Gerrard's 23rd minute header was enough to overcome the French side at Anfield on Wednesday evening. The Reds' main Group D rivals, Atletico Madrid, also won against PSV Eindhoven to retain top spot on goal difference and Benitez has suggested he will rest some key players when his side takes on the Dutch club in two weeks. Topping the qualification group usually ensures a slightly easier last 16 tie on paper than the side who finished second. "It is really important that we qualified for the next stage, we won and now we can approach the final game in a different way without any pressures," he said. "It was a strange game, we scored and controlled it, but they attacked and we were left to hit on the counter-attack. "We could not find the final pass. The game was too open against a team with pace and ability. "They came to attack and had three strikers and two more just behind. To contain five players with pace and ability is not easy. "We must improve our possession and to keep the ball and pass it better, we were giving the ball away too easily." Meanwhile, Benitez hailed Gerrard's professionalism after his skipper appeared to be struck by a missile thrown from the Marseille fans while preparing to take a corner. "Gerrard was really good in that incident, maybe the UEFA delegate will notice what happened. Steven did well not to react," said the Spanish coach. "Gerrard is a very, very good attacking midfielder - a very important player for us and his goal proved this."

Source: ESA