Benitez reveals late Torres call

Posted Sunday, October 25, 2009 by PA

Rafael Benitez revealed that it was only on the team coach going to Anfield that he decided to use Spanish striker Fernando Torres from the start against Manchester United.

The under pressure Liverpool boss waited until the last moment before deciding Torres, who was struggling with a groin injury, could cope with a battle against the Barclays Premier League champions that could make or break his side's season.

After the 2-0 win, Benitez said: "In the morning I had decided that he would be involved, but I needed convincing he could start rather than just be a substitute.

"I talked with Fernando on the coach, and that was when I was really convinced that he could play.

"Playing Fernando was a difficult decision. He was not training, the same as Steven Gerrard.

"But after talking with him we decided it was better to start the game with him."

Defeat would have meant Liverpool's worst run since 1953, when they were relegated from the top flight.

But Torres ensured a first win from five attempts by firing the opener in the victory.

Substitute David Ngog added a second in stoppage time after Nemanja Vidic and Javier Mascherano had both been sent off in a fierce confrontation between English football's bitterest rivals.

Benitez decided it was better to begin the match with Torres short of fitness, rather than try to cope without him.

"You could see he was not 100% fit, but sometimes 80% of Fernando can make a difference," added the manager.

"We had to be very careful with him, that is why we took him off near the end.

"You have to take care of him. But we were waiting for that final pass and when it came we knew he would score."

Liverpool had been subjected to brutal criticism before the game following four successive losses, their worst run in 22 years.

And Benitez was relieved as the run was ended against the champions.

"I am very pleased for the club, the players and all the staff," he said.

"We needed to change our luck with a win, and this was a fantastic win.

"Beforehand we were talking that this was the perfect game to change our luck, against a good team.

"We needed to perform in front of our fans, and to show what we were capable of. It was a fantastic performance from our players."

Sir Alex Ferguson believes his Manchester United side did not get a fair crack of the whip from referee Andre Marriner.

Vidic was sent off for two yellow cards and Ferguson questioned a number of the official's decisions as they slumped to their first defeat in 12 games in all competitions.

Ferguson felt Vidic was unlucky to be red-carded, that home defender Jamie Carragher should have been dismissed and Michael Carrick was denied a penalty.

Ferguson said: "It is very difficult atmosphere here. There was a wounded animal aspect to the game and it was something we did not overcome.

"I think it affected our players and it affected the referee. There were so many controversial things that happened we have to feel aggrieved at some of them.

"The Vidic booking was the worst decision. It is a foul, fine. But the player has played on, he won the second ball and knocked it for a throw in and got booked. It put Nemanja under pressure.

"The most controversial decision was Carragher bringing down Michael Owen. He was clear through.

"The laws of the game were altered to prevent professional fouls of that nature and if Carragher goes off, he is their best player and their captain. It would have been a different game. They would have been under pressure.

"The referee was only four or five yards from it he cannot use a covering defender as an excuse. Michael was clean through. With Michael's pace he is going to get away from him."

Ferguson was also incensed they were not awarded a spot-kick for a Carragher challenge on Michael Carrick.

"He has gone right over the top of the ball, " said the United boss.

"If it is outside of the box it is a free kick and maybe a yellow card.

"But it was inside the box and the referee was only six yards from it. It was another bad decision."

Ferguson did, however, conceded Liverpool were worthy winners.

"Liverpool were the better team and I am not taking anything away from them at all," he said.

"They deserved to win the game as it was a disappointing performance from us. We were not good enough."


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