Rafa hails Reds' efforts
Rafa Benitez admits to being 'proud' of his players following Liverpool's exit from the UEFA Champions League. The Reds entered the second leg of their quarter-final contest with Chelsea trailing 3-1 from last week's meeting at Anfield. However, they came agonisingly close to pulling off a dramatic comeback and left Stamford Bridge on Tuesday disappointed to have been held to a 4-4 draw. They led 2-0 and 4-3 at different stages of the game, putting them within touching distance of the last four. It was not to be, though, and Benitez was left to reflect on what might have been after a contest which will live long in the memory of those fortunate to witness it. "We showed character and quality and we have to be really proud," he said. "The players have done a fantastic job. The fans will be very pleased with the team. "We were on top of them from the beginning, so credit to all of the players and especially Lucas in the middle, the position of (Steven)Gerrard, he worked very hard. Thanks to them we were pushing and we came very close. Positive "When you play against a team like Chelsea, though, you are made to pay for your mistakes and even though we were pushing and attacking, there were one or two mistakes and they scored. "Clearly when you lose you are disappointed, but to lose in this way you have to be really proud, hold your head up and think about the Premier League. "We are positive because we have shown that we can score four goals here at Stamford Bridge and we can do the same at any stadium. We can win many games with this mentality." Liverpool's cause was hindered prior to kick-off with the news that Gerrard would miss the game through injury. The Reds had hoped to have their influential skipper available but Benitez has revealed that the midfielder was not in good enough shape for such a crucial contest. "He felt something so he wasn't available," he said. "We thought he would be okay, but at the end he felt something and it was an easy decision because he couldn't play."
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