Pepe Reina did not contribute much optimism to Liverpool's chances of overturning their 3-1 first leg Champions League deficit against Chelsea next Tuesday, putting his side's chances of progressing at a mere 15 per cent. "I would say it is more or less 85-15 against us qualifying now," said the goalkeeper, whose side now find themselves clinging to thoughts of that 4-1 win at Old Trafford for reasons other than a belief that they can beat Manchester United to the title. "We won 1-4 at Old Trafford three weeks ago and we have it within us to do that again," Reina said. "It can be done."
Liverpool may have to do it without Steven Gerrard, after he had a scan on his troublesome groin problem yesterday. The club may not have the results until today and he looks certain to miss tomorrow's game with Blackburn.
Reina was honest about the way that the force of Didier Drogba proved too much for Martin Skrtel, who had a particularly bad night, and Jamie Carragher, whose goalline clearance from Drogba saved Liverpool from embarrassment. "We were playing too long," Reina said. "We were not dominating individual situations, we didn't dominate at centre half and they had better shape and better movements than us."
Rafael Benitez's toughest job will be to ensure that this result does not strip away his side's momentum in the very same way that they halted United's on that March Saturday at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson's suggestion that the winners will be United's main obstacle in the league run-in may have been ringing in Benitez's ears yesterday morning – the off-hand comment infuriated him more than he let on – and Reina also returned the comment to the Scotsman with interest yesterday. "I'm not interested in anything Ferguson says," he declared. But like it or not, the psychological pressure is undoubtedly cranked up for Liverpool now that they have revealed themselves to be as beatable as United.
For Chelsea the triumph at Anfield has engendered a belief that the title race may still be on for them.
"Everything is still up for grabs," Frank Lampard said yesterday. "Who knows what can happen in the league, FA Cup and the Champions League? It's important we keep to the standards we set at Liverpool. When we play to those standards, when we look at the strength we've got throughout the pitch, we are as good as anybody. We've just got to play to that high standard all the time." Drogba also said he feels "everything is possible" now for Chelsea.
Ferguson believes that the winner of the tie is United's strongest adversary but Chelsea, four points behind Manchester United in the league with one game fewer to play, have a tough run in, with Arsenal, Everton, West Ham and Fulham – all form sides – to play. Still, Lampard's renewed belief reflected many players' yesterday and he said Wednesday's win was laced with "a slight sense of disappointment that we didn't score more". In the dressing room at half time Chelsea felt that they might have been ahead. "We were slightly disappointed not to be and wanted to continue what we were doing. We had a plan from the start of the game and we carried on doing it."
The players made no bones about the fact that Guus Hiddink is restoring them to their natural game which was not there under Luiz Felipe Scolari. "I think we've come back to our style of playing," Petr Cech said. "You can see this is the Chelsea we knew before the start of this season." There is widespread indignation in their ranks about the yellow card that will keep John Terry out of the second leg – Lampard following Terry yesterday in complaining about "all the Liverpool players ran around to make sure [he got booked]."Reuse content