Benitez optimistic over contract talks

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The Independent Online

Rafael Benitez is confident of making progress in discussions over his Liverpool contract after last night's 1-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg victory over Real Madrid.

Yossi Benayoun's late header at the Bernabeu put the Reds in pole position to progress to the last eight and Benitez was swift to dismiss speculation he had been ready to quit Anfield.

The Spaniard said: "My lawyers and advisors have been talking to the club's owners over the past few days about the contract and I believe that problems we have can be overcome.

"I was very surprised to hear rumours that I was going to resign.

"I can assure you that I have not been considering such a move, and it was a shock to hear such suggestions.

"It needs to be clear that I was not thinking of resigning. My aim is to keep working and winning and to tell the owners that on the pitch."

Benitez has been locked in talks with owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks over a new four-year deal for several weeks.

And he strenuously refuted claims he was considering his position, reiterating he is happy at the club.

"I expect talks to continue between my lawyers, my advisors, myself and the owners," added Benitez.

"I am really pleased with my position at the club, I have not been thinking about resigning.

"My aim is to win every game that is possible for this club, and my advisors will continue to talk. We will see what happens then.

"We are still talking, so we will see what happens in the future.

"I was not thinking about resigning, obviously I cannot control other things that I could be fired, but I was just concentrating on the game.

"The club has made it clear this rumour was not true. That is important for everyone. Stability is the key if you want to be successful.

"And the players were able to do their talking on the pitch, not beforehand."

Benitez was thrilled with the victory which gives him the opportunity to lead Liverpool to the Champions League quarter-final for the fourth time in five seasons.

"This was a very important victory," he said. "Particularly as we did not have Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres was troubled by an ankle injury from the first minute.

"But we were able to play them on the counter-attack. We knew how Real play and we were able to organise our tactics accordingly."

Benitez expects Torres to miss Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough with his ankle injury, but believes Gerrard could start the game following the hamstring injury that restricted his involvement against Real to the last few minutes.

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