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By ESPN Staff
Sep 21, 2006

Morientes happy to escape English football

MADRID, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Spanish striker Fernando Morientes says he is happy to have escaped the rough and tumble of the English Premier League after returning to Spain and joining Valencia.

The 30-year-old former Liverpool striker has scored two goals in two league games for his new club and bagged a hat-trick in the Champions League against Olympiakos Piraeus a week ago.

'I wanted to return to what I knew and play the kind of football in which I felt more comfortable,' Morientes told sports daily Sport on Thursday.

The former Real Madrid striker failed to make his mark with Liverpool and only managed 12 goals in 61 appearances.

After less than a year and a half with the Merseysiders he joined Valencia in July for a reported fee of six million euros.

'I didn't like the physical nature of the game in England or the referees who let more things go, and who blow for fewer fouls than they do here,' Morientes added.

'A striker isn't protected from rival defences there, and they gave me a really hard time.'

Morientes is expected to lead the line for Valencia on Sunday when they visit champions Barcelona in the Primera Liga. Both sides have 100 percent records.