Benitez hits crisis point as Reds crash out of Cup

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Reading's extra-time winner embarrasses Liverpool as Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun sustain injuries

Liverpool's dire season drifted into the realms of the apocalyptic last night when Reading, a side four places and five points off the bottom of the Championship, exposed their desperately brittle defence and left them clutching to Europa League ambitions as their last hope of silverware.

Liverpool's dismal FA Cup record against lower league opposition – five exits in 11 years – seemed destined to be rectified when they entered second-half injury time 1-0 ahead but a defence that had looked vulnerable all night conceded on 91 minutes and again after 100. Reading left with their first ever win at Anfield; one that plunges Rafael Benitez's future back into uncertainty.

His misery was compounded by a twisted knee and hamstring pull sustained by Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard respectively. "We have to wait until tomorrow to see what the doctor says," a grave Benitez said last night. Yossi Benayoun, probably his best player on the night, has sustained a rib injury.

The sense of crisis and drift was compounded by Benitez's refusal to specify what he had found displeasing. "There were a lot of things I didn't like. We made mistakes," the manager said. But pressed on what they were he replied: "I don't want to say too much. I prefer not to say anything. We know it's a massive competition and we wanted to progress. I'm really disappointed."

Brian McDermott, Reading's caretaker manager, justifiably felt the win was warranted, with Jobi McAnuff having an opportunity, minutes before referee Phil Dowd justifiably adjudged Benayoun to have fouled Shane Long in the area, to slide in an equaliser after a 70-yard run through the Liverpool midfield. "I had feared coming here and not playing," said McDermott, who in the mayhem forgot to ask Reading chairman John Madjeski if the job is his permanently. "We created decent chances and we might have been in front at half time. The whole thing [worked for us]. [It was] resilience. A lot of people can come to Anfield, feel the history of the place and not respond. Freeze basically." Before extra time he told the players: "The last thing you want is an honourable defeat."

Irishman Long, whose career contours have dipped at the same rate as Reading's, saw Gylfi Sigurdsson's right foot dispatch the penalty he had won. Then he got in ahead of Daniel Agger to head in Reading's winner from Bryn Gunnarsson's cross.

Benitez did not reject the suggestion that his position will be questioned. "The last three months, I think a lot of people are talking about me but we have to move forward," he said. "It's not the best. Sometimes you have bad moments. Sometimes you have to carry on."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'