Benitez: Mascherano dismissal is what cost us

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes the first-half dismissal of

Javier Mascherano signalled the beginning of the end for his side

as they fell to a 2-0 loss at Portsmouth.

The Argentinian midfielder saw red shortly before the

interval after recklessly crashing into Tal Ben Haim, although his

feet did not leave the ground.

Liverpool were already trailing to a Nadir Belhadj goal when

they were reduced to 10 men and Frederic Piquionne added another

late on to complete the scoring.

Benitez said on Sky Sports: “If you analyse the first half we

were doing well, even with their goal but then came the Mascherano

incident.

“We were a good team in the first half and the sending off

changed everything.

“We had some chances, we should have scored, we were

controlling the game and everything changed with Mascherano.

“Now we have to hope we can win our next game.”

Pompey’s victory will ignite hope of survival in the Barclays

Premier League.

The result also means Avram Grant maintains his unbeaten

record against Benitez after posting two wins and two draws during

his time at Chelsea in the 2008 season.

Grant was thrilled to claim the scalp of Liverpool having

narrowly missed out to leaders Chelsea in midweek.

“Today we played like a team,” he said.

“From game to game we are playing better and today we

deserved the win.

“We played on Wednesday against a team in first place at

home, and we showed ourselves if we can do things well at the

bottom of the table we can still surprise the other team, and today

it went well.”

Pompey midfielder Michael Brown added: “We’ve been playing

well in general. It was a fantastic result for us.

“It’s a matter of getting some points and three points is

fantastic against a strong Liverpool team with a lot of talent.

It’s an enjoyable day for us.”