Steven Gerrard admitted that there was a sense of relief as Liverpool left it late to get the winning goal against Maccabi Haifa in tonight’s Champions League qualifier. Speaking after the game to ITV Sport, the Reds captain said: “We made hard work of it I suppose, but we go into the second leg and we’re winning, so they’ve got to beat us.”
The game was the first leg of a tie that could be worth £12m to the FA Cup holders, but it was also their first competitive match of the season, and Gerrard says it showed that the players were still trying to get back in shape: “We’re still looking for 100% fitness, it was hard work out there tonight.”
Both of Liverpool’s goals were scored by debut players, Craig Bellamy got Liverpool’s first and just two minutes after coning on as a substitute Mark Gonzalez got the winner. “That’s what we’ve bought Craig for, to score us goals,” said Stevie. “Mark’s come on towards the end and got us a vital goal, but that’s what we’ve bought them for, to strengthen the squad and score important goals for us and they’ve done the job tonight.”
The second leg venue hasn’t been confirmed yet, other than to say it won’t be played in Isreal. For Gerrard though that’s well into the future now, there’s more work to be done before that game gets underway: “It’s two weeks down the line, we’ve got two weeks more training and a couple of games before that , so we’ll be a better side come the second leg.” No complacency though from the skipper: “There’s still a job to do and we need to work hard to make sure we get into the Champions League”.