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Benitez Can't Help Criticizing Referee

  • Guardian, Monday, August 17, 2009 3:30 PM
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez displayed some theatrical humor when asked what he thought about the referee's overall performance in Liverpool's 2-1 loss against Tottenham on Sunday. He took off his spectacles and held them up for inspection. After Liverpool received a penalty for a foul by Tottenham goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes, the referee ignored two other questionable penalty calls late in the second half. First, Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto leveled Andriy Voronin in the penalty box, and then a Fernando Torres cross hit Assou-Ekotto in the arm.

Benitez couldn't remain silent about the referee. "I think everyone could see there was a penalty, especially to Voronin, it was so clear," he said. "The third one, you could excuse. You can say that the hand was to the ball or the ball was to the hand, it could be, but the other one was so clear, it was unbelievable. Can you get two penalties at an away ground? No. With this referee, I knew that this was impossible."

But Benitez' complaints obscured the consensus that Liverpool deserved nothing from the game, as it ran into a highly organized and revamped Spurs team. Benitez, who saw Jamie Carragher receive stitches in a head wound and Martin Skrtel depart with stitches and a damaged jaw after a first-half collision between the pair, acknowledged that his team "did not play well, especially in the first-half" and that it had not been "comfortable in possession". "We need to improve in the middle, keeping the ball," he added. "The understanding between the strikers and the midfielders has to be much better."

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