Liverpool manager Benitez hails 'special' Dirk Kuyt

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The Independent Online

Rafael Benitez hailed Dirk Kuyt as a special player as the Dutchman became the third-highest scorer in Liverpool's European Cup history.



Kuyt's first-half goal got Liverpool's Champions League campaign off to a winning start last night against Debrecen in their opening group E match.

The Liverpool boss sees Kuyt as crucial for Liverpool because he is so alert in the box, and it was that awareness that saw Kuyt bag his 12th Champions League goal for the club, scoring from the rebound when a Fernando Torres shot was parried by goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic.

Benitez said: "Dirk Kuyt is a special player for us. He is a very good striker, he can play on the right or in the middle and he is always a danger.

"His work ensures that. He is always around in the box to take advantage of situations where the keeper has blocked or parried a shot and the ball is loose.

"He is always aware, he sees situations as they develop and he is always ready for the 'second ball' when it drops in the box.

"He has done it before many times, he did it against Debrecen, and I know he will be showing that form in the future. He can be relied on to do that."

Liverpool struggled to turn their pressure into goals against the Hungarians, and Benitez said: "As for the lack of goals, it is something we cannot hide from. I am not concerned by any suggestion that we lack creativity because we had plenty of very good opportunities.

"But the game underlined how important it is to take those chances. Albert Riera was through on the goalkeeper on two occasions, while Steven Gerrard also missed an very good opening.

"Always you learn about your players, but we know them all pretty well now and we have to solve one or two small details to improve what we do.

"But we won, and we can now approach the next game away to Fiorentina with confidence. We are also starting to win games in succession and confidence is high in the dressing room.

"We now face Fiorentina next, and although Italian teams are always very difficult we believe that we can win there and if we do that it will be six points already, and that will mean the rest of the group can be approached in a more relaxed manner."

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