Benitez bemoans Liverpool's luck

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, last night claimed only bad luck denied his team a Carling Cup final triumph over Chelsea after their 3-2 extra-time defeat.

Liverpool were 1-0 up before Steven Gerrard's own goal took the final into extra time, and Chelsea proved too strong for Liverpool in the extra period.

"I was disappointed," Benitez said. "When you're winning 1-0 and you have two clear chances to finish the game ­ and then you score an own goal at the end ­ you can say that it's bad luck."

Defending his team's performance, which was spent mainly on the defensive, Benitez said: "We must be proud because they tried to do their best. If you run, you work and you try, you can't do any more. I feel we did the things we needed to do.

"Against a team like Chelsea, you need to control the space and afterwards try to make good counter-attacks. And we did those things. If you have two or three clear chances, it means you have done your job. But you need luck to score, to finish."

Joe Cole, the Chelsea midfielder, was delighted after collecting his first piece of senior silverware. "Just to win a trophy is brilliant," he said. "The best thing that could have happened was an early goal. It made us come out and attack them and in fairness they didn't really get out of their half. When we got the first I always felt we were going to win it. We are just going to enjoy this feeling.

"[The Chelsea owner] Roman [Abramovich] was in the changing-room afterwards but he is always there win, lose or draw. I think he's pleased. He plays his cards close to his chest. That's probably why he is such a good businessman.

"The club hasn't won a trophy for five years and that is not on for a club this size, but I think we have turned a corner and, hopefully, this is the start of a very successful reign. You can't argue with Jose's [Mourinho] record. He has only been over eight months and already put silverware on the table."

In contrast, the Liverpool captain Gerrard said defeat was tough to take after scoring the own goal which let Chelsea back into the game. "All credit to Chelsea. They deserved it," he said. "We were 15 minutes away from lifting the trophy ourselves. It's very painful. It's been a bad day, but I've got to be strong and pick myself up."

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