Reaction: Luton 3 Liverpool 5

Liverpool went into the fourth round of the FA Cup after a thrilling victory against Luton at Kenilworth Road yesterday. Coming back from 3-1 down to win 5-3 will certainly earn the match an entry in the book of exciting cup matches, but how did the two managers see it?

Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez was only slightly tongue-in-cheek when he said: “I don’t like comebacks. They are not good for my heart. We looked as though we thought it would be easy after the first goal, but we gave them a lot of opportunities.”

On paper there’s no question who would have been expected to win, but as Rafa says, you still have to fight to win: “We need to learn that if you’re better than the other team you have to finish them off. The problem was we scored too early and we thought the game was going to be easy. When we woke up the score was 3-1 to them. We got back into it and kept going forward, but you cannot afford to wait until the second half to play. I was not happy with the performance. We gifted them so many chances.”

Luton’s Paul Underwood should have been sent off for bringing down Steven Gerrard according to Rafa: “In the six-yard box, if it’s a penalty it has to be a red card. If it’s not a foul, fine, then it is also no penalty. It would have made a big difference, to have 10 players instead of 11.” Djibril Cisse saw the resulting penalty saved.

It was certainly a better FA Cup experience for Rafa than his only previous game in the competition, last season’s 3rd round defeat at Turf Moor: “Luton did a fantastic job, they really played well. Their supporters were great but so were ours too.”

Liverpool supporter and Luton manager Mike Newell was understandably down about the result: “I’m majorly disappointed, we put on a good performance in the first half and at 3-1 up you have to be able to shut up shop and close it out. But I cannot fault the players for their honesty and their commitment. The lads are very honest and they keep going for it.” 

Newell is more than a little knowledgeable about Liverpool, and thought his homework would pay off: “We’ve lost to a good side but it’s a disappointing day for me. Anything can happen in the Cup and we’re a Championship side, not non-League. We gave them a real game and at the end of the day we can feel a bit hard done by. Now we can concentrate on the league. Our season has levelled out a bit, but we’re in decent form, we’re just not scoring many.”

Newell wants something out of the season, and must have felt this game was going to be the start of something: “We’re a good side with good players and we want them to have a go now. It’s no consolation to have performed so well. We have been beaten. We are disappointed. We feel a bit hard done by.”

FA Cup Third Round Result

Saturday January 7th 2006.

Luton Town 3 (Howard 31, Robinson 43, Nicholls 53 (pen))
Liverpool 5 (Gerrard 16, Sinama-Pongolle 62, 74, Alonso 69, 90+4)

Luton: M Beresford, K Foley, C Coyne, M Heikkinen (L Barnett 74), P Underwood, C Edwards (E Showunmi 81), K Nicholls, S Robinson, A Brkovic (W Feeney 81), S Howard, R Vine
Unused subs: D Morgan, D Brill

Liverpool: S Carson, S Finnan, S Hyypia, J Carragher, J Riise, H Kewell, M Sissoko (F Sinama Pongolle 57), X Alonso, S Gerrard, P Crouch (J Kromkamp 79), D Cisse (S Warnock 89)
Unused subs: D Hamann, J Reina
Booked: Sissoko 24, Carson 52, Cisse 89

Referee: M Clattenburg
Half-time: 2-1