Carling Cup – October 31st 2007
Liverpool 2 Cardiff 1
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: “I didn’t want to play him (Steven Gerrard), because normally in this type of game you try to keep players safe. It would have been better for us if we didn’t play him, but we had injuries and no other option. Alonso is injured and Momo Sissoko was sick again. We have so many players with injuries we want players to be ready for the next game – but sometimes you don’t have enough. We needed experience because we wanted to win the game but Momo was vomiting on Monday and was still sick yesterday. Steven is a player who wants to play every game. I need to change him sometimes, but I decided to play him to show that we wanted to win the game. In the end he was the one who scored the vital goal.
“Cardiff worked very hard and were always dangerous from set-pieces, and that is where their equaliser came from, but then Gerrard got through to score a typical goal. His form is coming back, as are his goals. That is three now in successive games.
“We had some good chances to score a third and finish the game off but if you can’t do that you’re always under pressure. From a free-kick you always know you can concede but it was good for us that Gerrard scored so soon after that. And it was really, really positive for me that El Zhar scored such a great goal in front of the Kop.”
(On what he said to returning legend Robbie Fowler on the pitch after the game): “I just wished him well – he was great for us when he came back to the club. He set a good example, as players with experience should, and he gave us everything. He has left us all with great memories of a great player. So I wished him all the best for this season, which is the only thing you can say – especially with my English! I hope he goes on to score lots of goals for Cardiff this season.”
(On Harry Kewell’s return to senior action as 71st minute sub): “It was important for Harry and for us that he went on. He could be like a new signing for us. I’m really pleased for him and hopefully now he can kick on.”
Cardiff manager Dave Jones: “We’ve come to Anfield and given them a bit of a fright. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’re in possession and unfortunately we lost the ball on the halfway line. But of all the players for the ball to break to, who can do that damage, it had to fall to the player I consider the best in that position – Gerrard.
“We were up against probably the best midfielder in Britain, Europe and halfway round the world and that’s what’s killed us. I was surprised Stevie was playing against us, because they’ve got some really big games coming up. The last player in the world you want to see driving at you like that is Steven Gerrard.
“He’s the one who has killed us, and there’s no disgrace in that, especially because we gave Liverpool such a fright. My son is in the academy here, so I’ll have to get him to duff Stevie up tomorrow!”
Liverpool: 30 Itandje, 17 Arbeloa, 46 Hobbs, 23 Carragher, 12 Aurelio, 42 El Zhar (7 Kewell, 71), 21 Lucas (20 Mascherano, 87), 8 Gerrard, 33 Leto (11 Benayoun, 63), 15 Crouch, 19 Babel
Unused subs: 40 Martin, 6 Riise
Bookings: Lucas 84, Babel 90
Goals: El Zhar 48, Gerrard 66
Cardiff: 13 Oakes, 2 McNaughton (44 Gunter, 84), 5 Purse, 12 Johnson, 3 Capaldi, 16 Ledley, 4 Rae, 10 McPhail (7 Whittingham, 89), 11 Parry, 8 Fowler, 36 Hasselbaink (20 Thompson, 75)
Subs: 31 Magennis, 6 Loovens
Bookings: McNaughton 44
Goals: Purse 65
Stats: (Liverpool – Cardiff)
Possession: 55% – 45%
Shots on target: 10 – 6
Shots off target: 11 – 2
Corners: 5 – 6
Fouls: 12 – 5
Referee: Peter Walton