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