Everton 'still hurting' from Benfica mauling
Moyes says 'pride is at stake' as Portuguese seek Europa League double
Thursday 05 November 2009
David Moyes is determined that Everton will restore their battered reputation in Europe tonight. Benfica arrive at Goodison Park after inflicting a damaging 5-0 defeat on his side in Lisbon. That was Everton's heaviest loss in continental competition and the scars are still healing.
However they remain among the favourites to progress from Group I in the Europa League and their unbeaten home run at this level stretches to an impressive nine games.
Moyes said: "We do not use the word revenge but pride is at stake. We are hurting from the Benfica game and the result. Hopefully we can do something about it. We want to progress in the group, that is the important thing.
"It is great we are talking about expectations in Europe because that has not been the case for a long time. We are going to have a go and get a result. A point would not be a bad thing the way the group is going," said Moyes. "The key is to qualify, that's our aim and we could find ourselves closer to that target tomorrow. But we have to play much better than we did in Lisbon."
Even though Benfica are without a victory in seven European matches on the road, Moyes is not underestimating his opponents.
"I think they will play the same way as they did at home. There are a really good side," he said. "They may well topple Porto, who have dominated for years, and win the league. We do know the dangers Benfica pose but it is not easy to stop them. However I hope we can cause them some problems on our own ground."
The American goalkeeper Tim Howard is desperate to put that mauling by Benfica to bed. "It is important we can back on track and get through the group," he said. "We have been excited by the challenge the last couple of years.
"Qualifying for Europe has been important for us. We feel there is some prestige in it. They have revamped it more like the Champions League format and I think they have done a pretty good job. There will be some big teams coming into the knockout stages, dropping down from Champions League, so for me it is special.
"Playing in England is the tops and playing internationally is what every player wants. Hopefully I can continue to get better at every level. Different managers have put out different sides in Europe with the Premier League in mind. Our manager tries to put out his strongest team in every competition. We take it very seriously."
Moyes will be again down on numbers as John Heitinga and Lucas Neill are sidelined as they are both ineligible. Louis Saha (calf), Tony Hibbert (flu) are doubtful through injury and illness but Steven Pienaar could be on the bench after a knee problem.
Meanwhile the Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta has suffered a setback in his recovery from a serious knee injury. Arteta snapped a cruciate ligament during the match against Newcastle United at St James' Park in the Premier League in February. He was expected to step up his rehabilitation in the next month only to suffer an infection in the injury.
Moyes said: "We have had to wash out the knee. It is a setback but I cannot say for how long."
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