Rafa: We are close to qualification now

Rafael Benitez was delighted tonight with Djibril Cisse’s winner for Liverpool, and the manager was also pleased with the number of chances created by the Reds – if a little disappointed they didn’t take more of them.

Liverpool remain level on points with Chelsea at the top of Group G, with Chelsea ahead on goal difference. Cisse’s goal on 20 minutes tonight was enough to give Liverpool the three points.

Rafa said after the game: "Djib did very well. It was a good goal, the keeper had no chance, and it’s good for him to keep scoring. The fact that the goal came from a set-piece was extra pleasing and we must do this more often."

Rafa was asked whether Cisse would be given a chance to make it three goals in three starts this weekend, but with Crouch and Morientes waiting in the wings he says he needs to look at his options first: "It’s good to have lots of options now Cisse is starting to score goals, but I’ll have a think about our team before selecting a side for Saturday." The game also saw a return to action for Harry Kewell, used as a late substitute for Cisse, who’d been playing alone up front, just ahead of Luis Garcia.

Rafa was pleased overall, even if Anderlecht did get more chances than they should have done: "I’m very happy with the performance. Anderlecht have good players and play quality football. But it is important to win and to be strong in defence. It was a difficult game. We created a lot of chances and always wanted to be positive. I think we had 18 shots in total, but couldn’t score a second goal that would have killed them off."

Anderlecht’s attacking play in the second half should have given the Reds the chance to finish the game off, but in the end there was a feeling that the European Champions were holding on for the points. Rafa said the second half was difficult: "We controlled the first half but it was more open than I wanted in the second half as their short passing style was difficult to control. Anderlecht played some good football going forward."

The boss was glad to see Liverpool stay level with Chelsea, and feels qualification for the knockout stage is much closer now: "Overall though it was a really good result. If we win our home games we should qualify for the next stage, and maybe one more win will be enough for us now to qualify." The next match is in two weeks, when Anderlecht visit Anfield.