Liverpool beat Wigan 1-0 at the JJB Stadium this afternoon thanks to a goal from substitute Yossi Benayoun, but that goal took 75 minutes to come as Liverpool struggled to put away chances. Manager Rafa Benítez was asked what he thought of his side’s display: “I think it was not bad: You cannot say that the performance was really, really good, but especially the first half we had control of everything and we had some chances and we couldn’t score.
“In the second half, we needed to change things and we used Benayoun and after Voronin to try to keep the ball, and Benayoun, between the lines with good movement, was a key player for us. The difference between one or two years ago is that now you have more players with quality and they can change games.”
He went on: “The team has the balance, defending well – normally – we had some problems today with the second ball but normally defending well, and after that attacking well too. That is the key.”
Rafa says one of the reasons he bought Yossi was because he can come off the bench and change things: “I brought him here for these kinds of games. When you are trying to find a solution, you need players of creativity and quality, and Yossi gives us that. I am not saying he will start every game on the bench; it’s just that in this instance I wanted to do different things. Yossi played the other night and I needed fresh legs, so I started with Pennant.”
The missed chances meant Liverpool were always in danger of dropping points for the third league match in a row: “We created some chances and you need to take them if you want an open game, but because we didn’t we needed to bring on players with different skills and Yossi was good, it was perfect.”
Liverpool survived a disallowed goal, a linesman’s flag raised as Marcus Bent put the ball in the net. Chris Hutchings hadn’t seen the incident too closely when he spoke after the game: “One or two people have told me what happened, but I need to look myself before I can make a clear comment.” Another moment that could have cost Liverpool points came in injury time, when Aghahowa headed wide from six yards. Hutchings said: “I expected everything to end up in the net, so I wasn’t too pleased about that. I don’t know how it didn’t go in, so in the end while I am pleased with the performance and the lads were great, I am very disappointed with the result.”
Hutchings felt pleased with how his team’s performance had caused Rafa to change his tactics: “I thought the way we defended and how we passed the ball around was pleasing. That’s how we are trying to do things now. We can take positives out of the game with the way they changed things in order to hold on to their three points, and all credit to them for doing that.”