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Benitez confident despite defeat
February 22, 2006 12:08 IST
Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez is confident his team can reach the Champions League quarter-finals despite a 1-0 defeat by Benfica on Tuesday.
The European champions lost to an 84th minute header by defender Luisao in the first knockout round tie but Benitez is looking forward to the second leg after an even game.
"For me it was a draw," said the Spaniard, who felt his side matched the Portuguese champions in a tight game at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon that set the tone for the return at Anfield on March 8.
"It was a tough game against a difficult team. I was happy with them [the players], maybe we can play a little bit better if it's possible," he added.
"I feel that maybe with the supporters behind us, we can score a second one [at Anfield]," said Benitez. "In terms of how we played, maybe we could have gone a little bit forward."
Benfica coach Ronald Koeman warned against overconfidence going into the second leg, saying, "If we can score one against them at home, they can score three on their pitch."
"I still think it will be difficult for us. But it's the first game they've lost in the Champions League. We beat Manchester [United] and we beat Liverpool, maybe we will do it again in two weeks."
The Dutchman added: "It was not a fantastic football game. It was not the best start for us. In the second half we did more to create more [opportunities].
"We fought against a very strong team. In the second half, we did more, we dominated more, we attacked more but without creating scoring opportunities.
"And so the score was the maximum. For a really tight game without a lot of scoring chances, winning 1-0 is the limit. It was difficult for us, but it was also difficult for Liverpool."
"I think the result is a very good result for us."
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage