Rafa takes points over performance
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admitted the 2-1 victory over
Wigan mattered more than the performance on an emotional night at
With the club celebrating the 50th anniversary of legendary
boss Bill Shankly’s first game in charge, a host of former stars
were paraded at half-time.
But having stumbled through the last two months Benitez said
three points was the only thing his side had to worry about.
Young French striker David Ngog’s 10th-minute glancing header
from Fabio Aurelio’s cross and Fernando Torres’ second-half
scrambled effort proved enough to see off the Latics, for whom
Charles N’Zogbia scored an injury-time consolation.
The victory lifts Liverpool back up to sixth, although they
are still five points adrift of the Champions League places. It was
only their fourth win in 16 matches and just their second at
Anfield since September 26 but it will do much for the team’s shaky
“It was very important to win, to get three points, with a
lot of positives,” said Benitez. “It does not matter if we couldn’t
score more goals and be more relaxed in the second half but, at the
end of the day, three points is key.
“We needed to get these three points and be ready for the
next game. We are thinking about one game at a time so now
Portsmouth (on Saturday) is the target.”
Benitez explained he held back Torres for his 100th
appearance until the second half as the striker is still feeling
the effects of having missed six matches since the start of
“I wanted to keep him back because he was really tired after
the last game (Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal).
“I told him I wanted to protect him and it would be good for
me to play him at the end and he was good too. I think he will be
ready for Portsmouth.”
Torres’ goal helped settle Liverpool’s nerves and Benitez
admitted confidence was still fragile.
“We had some chances – Yossi Benayoun had one, Ngog had one –
and if you score the second goal everything changes,” added the
“The main thing for us now is talking about [winning] games
in a row, starting at Portsmouth.”
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez’s side have now won only won
two of their last 10 matches and are just two points clear of the
relegation zone, having conceded the most goals in the Premier
League with 17 in their last four away games.
The Latics boss felt that had substitute Jason Scotland, who
has yet to score in the Premier League since his summer transfer,
not blasted a close-range volley against the crossbar five minutes
before Torres scored the result could have been different.
“I have mixed feelings. The first goal is really soft for our
standards, it was a lapse in concentration,” he said.
“When you come to places like Anfield if you do that you are
going to make things very difficult for yourself.
“After that I was pleased with the reaction and slowly we
created a few chances.
“The key moment is when Jason Scotland hit the crossbar. If
that had gone in it would have been a completely different game as
you could see the anxiety around the ground.
“We gave them a little bit too much respect and space in
spells and the concentration was not what it should be.
“Liverpool got their chances and took them; we got ours and