Hyypia tells Liverpool to heed CSKA warning

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The Independent Football

Hyypia, who was captain with Steven Gerrard nursing a calf injury, was brutally honest after the embarrassment of a 1-0 third qualifying round second-leg defeat, declaring: "We were not good enough."

Liverpool scrambled into today's group stages draw in Monaco thanks to a 3-2 aggregate victory, but it was not the way they had wanted to reach Europe's élite stage, where they will now become No 1 seeds as the holders.

Hyypia said: "We lost but we are grateful it hasn't done us any harm in terms of reaching the next stage. Now we need to see what went wrong and work harder on putting things right, because we were not good enough."

For long spells , Liverpool were in danger of being humbled by the Bulgarians with at least £10m of Uefa cash - qualification bonuses and television revenue - riding on the result.

It would have been a catastrophic financial failure had they failed to clinch their arrival in the lucrative group stages. Liverpool made around £30m for winning the trophy last season.

Their manager, Rafael Benitez, has admitted to already spending his full transfer budget, and a return to the Uefa Cup would have wrecked his plans.

But Hyypia and his colleagues, who started in the first qualifying round back in early July, have now put Liverpool in the group stages for the fourth time in five seasons.

He said: "We are in the group stages now and nobody can take that away from us. When I knew we had to start in the first qualifying round and that our first match was on 13 July, I wasn't very happy.

"It wasn't good for us to start back playing competitive matches so early, particularly as the Istanbul final was only seven weeks earlier. But we've done the job and reached the group stages. Now we have to go on from here and do our best to defend the trophy."

However, he added: "It is a relief when you lose a game but know the result doesn't really hurt you. During the warm-down after the game we were talking about the same stage last season when we lost here to Graz and then went on to win the competition. Maybe that will be a good sign for us for this season."

The defender Stephen Warnock has extended his Anfield contract until 2008. The 23-year-old full-back has started the season in Rafael Benitez's first team, and after making 29 appearances last season the club have moved to keep him on a long-term basis.

Warnock's contract was due to expire next summer, but he has now signed a two-year extension. Warnock had successful loan spells with Bradford and Coventry, before finding favour at Liverpool following the appointment of Benitez.

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