29 November 2007

Liverpool 4-1 Porto

By David Maddock 29/11/2007 The Daily Mirror

Liverpool stars and fans sent out the message loud and clear last night that they do not want to lose their manager.
The Anfield team produced a passionate performance to eventually overwhelm Porto and keep their Champions League hopes alive with a stunning four goal victory.
They must now defeat Marseille in the final game of Group A to go through to the knockout stages - but everyone in the ground knew that the night was about more than that.
It was about the position of Rafael Benitez, and how desperately everyone at the Merseyside club wants him to stay in charge.
Benitez acknowledged the backing of the fans and their march in support of him in his row with the owners.
"I'm really proud to be here," he said. "I say thank you, they know I want to be here.
"I don't have any personal problems with the owners or anyone. They want the best for the club, and so do I, but I prefer to enjoy today." The fans showed their support with deafening noise that drifted all the way to America.
And the players showed it by keeping their heads amid mounting tension as the game crept towards a draw, to score three brilliant late goals and emphasise their faith in the manager.
At the end the fans sang "Rafa's going nowhere."
And surely they must be right now, as again this Liverpool side showed their potential, and in Fernando Torres its class, with a fine performance under so much pressure.
Two goals from Torres a penalty from Steven Gerrard and a late header from sub Peter Crouch sealed it, but the night was about Benitez as the fans sang to him "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Last night he felt he wasn't. And Gerrard, who equalled Michael Owen's Liverpool goalscoring record in Europe, said: "The most important thing was getting the job done.
"We can play better, but give them credit.
Porto have quality players and are well organised, but once we scored the second goal they fell apart and we got the third and fourth. "The fans are like having an extra man.
They may not realise it but it makes a big difference."
Liverpool know a draw in Marseille in a fortnight will not be enough to secure their place in the knock-out stages and Gerrard added: "It's better to know you have to win."
And with a nod at England's defeat against Croatia when a draw would have put them through to Euro 2008, he said: "Sometimes when you know you only need a draw it can play on your mind and affect the performance."

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