Benitez: 'Never have I seen a team struggle as much as we did'

Rafael Benitez furious after seeing Liverpool commit series of defensive blunders in Italy to hand Fiorentina a 2-0 Champions League victory

Rafael Benitez last night declared that the first-half performance in his side's 2-0 defeat to Fiorentina was the worst he had seen in a Liverpool team he had managed.

Liverpool's defensive frailties saw them fall behind to two goals inside nine first-half minutes by the 19-year-old Montenegro striker Stevan Jovetic. "Never have I seen a team struggle so much as I did in the first half," Benitez said. "It was a very poor performance."

Liverpool improved slightly in the second half and went close several times in the first five minutes of the second half but the Viola held firm. "We didn't play well at the beginning," said Benitez, who deployed Fabio Aurelio rather than Steven Gerrard as a defensive midfielder. "Too many problems, too many mistakes. We had to change everything in the second half and it was very different, much better."

Benitez complained that Adrian Mutu was in a technically offside position for Fiorentina's first, though he was not interfering with play. "Clearly this new offside rule is changing everything. The best rule in football is offside whether a player has an influence or not. It is very difficult for the defenders. Jovetic was in a good position but Mutu was offside.

Benitez pledged better from his side for the visit to Chelsea on Sunday. "I think so it will be totally different we will see the Liverpool we have seen in the second half and it will be better." He said he expected the Jovetic threat "We knew the player. We were watching some of his games at this level."

Liverpool's defeat came on a day of more speculation about the future ownership of the club.

Benitez praised the Fiorentina fans. "It was an important game for the city and fans and now we have to win [our next game at home to Lyons]. Fiorentina did a very good job pressing around the pitch, nervous too many mistakes you makes mistakes you pay for them. We were talking about the mistakes and how to improve. We were challenging in a better way after half time."

At the Emirates, Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, praised his players for keeping their cool to beat Olympiakos 2-0 with late goals from Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin. He said: "I felt we kept composure, we kept going and mentally we were good. What I liked in our performance is that we continued to keep the discipline in the team and that's very satisfying. We didn't do anything crazy. We have matured and this game shows that.

"Olympiakos played for 10 years in the Champions League, they have quality. You go anywhere now in Europe and it's difficult, You look at the results and it shows that. To win at that level without conceding is always fantastic."

"We got very young players, and they make their name here," added Wenger, who will later this week become the longest-serving manager in the history of the club. "Robin is now a big name, he was less a big name when he arrived. When you look at the players who did not play tonight, you can see why we are not desperate.

"When you play against 10 men in one half, it is very important to have players who can play in a very short space, and [Andrei] Arshavin is a specialist in that," Wenger said. "He was sharp and determined. In this type of game, he is always a threat."

"We had a great first half, with outstanding quality, but unfortunately we could not take advantage. Then you know it is difficult to maintain that pace and quality for 90 minutes.

"In the second half, we dropped a bit physically and our fluency went a bit as well. Then it is about not making a mistake, digging deep and hoping they die a bit more than us in the last 20 minutes and that is what happened,

"We dominated this team from the first to the last minute, but there were well organised and disciplined. They waited for us, are very strong on pieces. We were wobbling a bit and maybe they hope for that. But maybe because we did not allow them to come out, that they did not come out."

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices