Momo still in hospital

Liverpool’s defeat by Benfica last night in the Champions League took on a little less significance when it was revealed after the game that Momo Sissoko had suffered a serious eye injury. The Reds’ Malian midfielder had been the victim of a high tackle from Benfica’s Beto during the match and was taken to hospital as the game continued and was still there on Wednesday morning.

Stories coming out about the state of the player are varying, but from all accounts it sounds quite worrying. The official line from Liverpool FC is that, “It is a serious eye injury which means Momo will be staying in hospital overnight for observation and further tests. The Club doctor and one of the physios is staying in Portugal with the player until he is able to return to England.”

This morning there was a statement from the clinical director of CUF Hospital in Lisbon where Momo had been kept overnight. Dr Joao Pako told reporters that that they couldn’t yet reveal how bad Momo’s injuries were, saying: “Right now he’s under specialist care, and we are reserving judgement. We can’t say anything more right now.” The doctor confirmed that Momo had been for a CT scan amongst other examinations.

Stories starting to be whispered about the state of Momo’s eye vary from damage to the eye socket, which in itself will delay his return to action, to damage to the eye itself.

It would be difficult to find any reason to blame Beto for the injury.
He tried to hook a ball out of the air as Momo stooped to head it
forward. He was booked for it and that was a suitable punishment for
the incident. Beto himself seems upset at the damage that was caused,
and has apologised. The Brazilian explained: “My boot caught Sissoko in
the face and it opened a big wound around the eye. I want to apologise
– I did not mean to injure him. It was just a typical 50-50 midfield
situation that happens all the time; you have to contest everything. It
happened, but I did not mean to harm him and I hope he recovers

Meanwhile Robbie Fowler says that despite the disappointment of the
late winner for Benfica last night Liverpool’s fans should help them to
overcome the Portuguese side in the return at Anfield. “I think
Liverpool are famous for our European nights. Come two weeks Wednesday,
I think it will be a special night. The fans will get right behind us
and it’ll be up to us then.”

According to Robbie it should have ended goalless and the late goal was
a disappointment: “It looked 0-0 all over, but they’ve had a free kick
quite late in the game and unfortunately, we’ve not dealt with it and
they’ve scored.”

Rafa Benítez was also disappointed that the game didn’t end all-square:
“We tried to play counter-attacking in the second half with Djibril
Cisse, but for me it should have been a draw. In terms of effort I’m
happy, but in terms of how we played, we could have gone forward a bit
more. It was a tough game against a difficult team. They pressed high
and made it difficult for us to play.”

Once again the “F” word creeps into interviews so did “fatigue” have a
part to play in the defeat? Rafa says it’s not really an excuse: “We
have played a lot of games this season already and it is not easy for
the players to play at this high tempo all the time. But maybe we can
play a little bit better.”
Captain Steven Gerrard would probably not have even got onto the bench
had Liverpool not been allowed the luxury of the seven substitutes that
European football brings. He was omitted from the starting line-up due
to dead leg according to Rafa, but after warming up he felt capable
enough to come on for the last ten minutes. As Rafa explained, it was a
risk even then: “Gerrard had a dead leg. At the end, he was warming up
to come on and he said he was okay and he wanted to help the team. But
it was a risk to bring him on. I would prefer to lose Steven for 80
minutes and not one month. That was the idea.”

Benfica’s coach Ronald Koeman said that after a difficult tie it was
good to be going to Anfield in such a strong position. Koeman has
reportedly found his job under threat in recent weeks, but last night’s
win will buy him a certain amount of time. He said: “We didn’t play
well in the first half but we attacked more in the second half. It was
difficult for us and difficult for Liverpool. It was mainly defending
and a lot of pressure in midfield, which meant there wasn’t a lot of
space for individual players on either side. It’s a very good result,
because if we score in Liverpool they have to score three times.”
His biggest concern seems to be skipper Steven Gerrard: “They will
attack more at Anfield but their way of play is always similar. In the
second leg Steven Gerrard will play from the start. It was their first
defeat in the Champions League proper this season and Liverpool have
played Chelsea twice and not lost, but we have now beaten them as well
as Manchester United, it shows we are also a good side.”

Liverpool’s players will be doing all they can to ensure that Momo is
able to continue with the European campaign for some time after he’s
recovered from the injury.