John Lennon Airport, 2am yesterday. Liverpool's weary troops trudge off the tarmac still pondering the highly dubious goal which brought a 1-0 defeat by Monaco and where it leaves their quest to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions' League.
John Lennon Airport, 2am yesterday. Liverpool's weary troops trudge off the tarmac still pondering the highly dubious goal which brought a 1-0 defeat by Monaco and where it leaves their quest to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions' League. On entering the building they are confronted by a strategically placed Everton flag, a case of adding insult to Rafael Benitez's burgeoning injury list.
It is debatable which was more vexing for the Liverpool manager - the tricky position in which Javier Saviola's winner leaves them in the three-team fight to advance from Group A, or the sight of Luis Garcia (hamstring) and Josemi (badly gashed forehead) becoming the latest casualties. His team played poorly, though they were hardly blessed with good fortune, the Danish referee admitting he spotted the Argentinian's use of a hand in controlling the ball but bizarrely deeming it legal.
Benitez's striking options have been reduced to the fitful Harry Kewell and the raw Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama-Pongolle now that Garcia is out for at least a month. Many players would hide behind the tradition of taking one game at a time, but Sami Hyypia looked bullishly beyond Arsenal's Premiership visit on Sunday to Liverpool's final first-round game, at home to the Greek club Olympiakos next month.
Progress would be worth around £5m to Liverpool in prize-money, ticket receipts and television fees, revenue that would bolster Benitez's depleted budget and finance some urgently needed squad-strengthening during the January transfer window.
"We have to win 2-0 to be sure of going through and we know it will be difficult," Hyypia said. "But I remember the Roma game in 2002 - it was an emotional night, with Gérard Houllier coming back from illness. We were in the same position then and came through. I'm confident we will do it again."
The Finnish defender added: "We got the early goal against Roma and that will be the key against Olympiakos. We need to get at them quickly and impose ourselves on the match. The crowd definitely helped us that evening and we need to get them behind us this time.
"When you're a Liverpool player, you have to show character. That's what we need to do again now. The injury situation is unfortunate, and now we have two more players out, but we just have to cope."Reuse content