Soccer

Benitez vows to keep fighting

2010-01-14 09:00
Rafael Benitez (File)

Liverpool - Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez vowed to fight on despite the English giants suffering a humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of Reading on Wednesday.

Liverpool squandered a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 after extra-time in their third round replay, a defeat which sent the former European champions spinning into a new crisis.

They are already out of the Champions League and are 12 points behind Chelsea in the Premier League title race.

"We have to keep our confidence and we can improve," said Benitez, who along with the team, was booed at the final whistle.

"We had chances, they had chances. The penalty (which allowed Reading to equalise in the last minute of normal time) was a crucial decision and we can talk about it for an hour. There were many things I didn't like but we cannot change the result.

"We are not in the competition anymore. If the critics are fair, then it's OK, but it's been the same for three months," added the 49-year-old.

Benitez had started the match with the boost of having signed experienced Argentinian winger Maxi Rodriguez from Atletico Madrid.

Benitez, who started his term with Liverpool on a real high with the Champions League title in an epic victory over AC Milan, also saw his evening's problems compounded when his two best players - Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres - went off injured.

Reading caretaker manager Brian McDermott said his side were fully deserving of their stunning win.

McDermott - who replaced Brendan Rodgers in mid-December - saw his side come from behind and then win the tie through a Shane Long header in extra-time to earn a home fourth round tie against relegation-threatened Premier League side Burnley.

"The guys were fantastic," purred McDermott. "We missed three or four good chances, but you've always got to think you are going to get another one.

"But we were good value tonight (Wednesday) - the lads were all brilliant.

"The chairperson (John Madjeski) is well pleased, but I'm not worried about the job. I'm just so pleased for him and the players."

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