Rafael Benitez hails Liverpool character

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is confident his side can turn around their Europa League tie against Benfica after watching a battling performance in the controversial 2-1 first leg defeat in Lisbon.

Defender Daniel Agger had put the visitors ahead by converting Steven Gerrard's ninth-minute free-kick with a clever backheel.

However, Ryan Babel was sent off on the half-hour for pushing a hand in Luisao's face and in the second half two controversial penalty awards allowed Oscar Cardozo to score twice having earlier missed a host of chances.

"Our play for 60 minutes with 10 players was good and we are disappointed because we had chances," he said.

"It means we are a good team because we had chances.

"They (Benfica) were trying to push very hard and we were defending well.

"We showed we can be strong, we can create and we can score goals.

"The team was working very hard and with the fans behind us we can progress in the competition."