Benayoun vows to prove worth

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The Independent Football

It is a year to the day since Liverpool, then the continent's command team of the moment, beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Bernabeu, with Yossi Benayoun's first signalling his emergence as one of the side's leading forces with the decisive Champions League goal.

Tonight's Europa League appointment with Unirea in Bucharest is another reminder of how far and how fast Liverpool have fallen, though manager Rafael Benitez could at least reflect yesterday on the emergence of Benayoun – a player he admits might have been replaced had money allowed. "The money is the main thing. We did not have the money but we had targets, that is clear," said Benitez, whose line tonight will be led by David Ngog with Fernando Torres a likely substitute.

"The difference between our subs sometimes and the other top sides is that they have players on £80,000 or £90,000-a-week and we do not have these figures. Players will wait on the bench if you are earning big, big money but you cannot bring a top striker to wait if Torres is injured. The players that are in the squad and have quality can make the difference, like Yossi."

Benayoun believes the goal in Madrid was career-changing. "The goal gave me a lot of confidence and since then I have played a lot better for Liverpool," he said.

"It was definitely the defining moment of my career. I had played good games and bad games before this, but really after this goal I started playing better and better. I played more games, scored more goals and have done better since then."

Benitez expects a more open game tonight than the 1-0 win against Unirea at Anfield but agreed that the evidence of last week suggests that the Romanians, who drew with Sevilla at home before Champions League elimination, have limited attacking options. Liverpool are seeking to progress to play Lille or Fenerbache. The French have a difficult task defending a 2-1 first-leg lead in Istanbul.