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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 1, 2006

Benitez claims goal will ignite Gerrard

Rafael Benitez has told his skipper Steven Gerrard to seize the moment and re-kindle his best form.

Gerrard finally grabbed his first goal of the campaign with the second in Liverpool's 3-0 Champions League victory over Bordeaux at Anfield last night.

The victory sends them into the next stage of the competition with two Group C matches still to play, and they can clinch top spot at the end of the month when PSV Eindhoven go to Anfield, also unbeaten in the competition this season.

But it was Gerrard's display that pleased boss Benitez most after Luis Garcia had taken his Champions League tally for the Merseysiders to 10 goals with his double against the French side, who had Brazilian defender Fernando Menegazzo sent off in the second half with the game finely poised at 1-0 to Liverpool.

Benitez said: 'Steven has been searching for that goal. When you have scored 23 one season and it takes a long time in the next campaign to get off the mark, then you do get worried.

'But he has been playing well and this goal will give him confidence to go on and re-claim his best form now. I believe he will be a lot calmer now.'

Last night's game was initially overshadowed by the shock resignation from the board hours earlier by former Liverpool chairman Noel White.

White was quoted last week in the media, initially as an un-named director, criticising Benitez's management methods.

But, hours before the match, White had admitted he was the director involved and offered his resignation.

Benitez said: 'It is a pity, I have not had a bad relationship with Noel White and I am sorry this has happened. Now, though, I would prefer to look to the future.

'The important thing is the club, and such things as this do not normally happen here. This is a big club and there is a way of doing things here. But I am sorry that it has had to end this way.'

Benitez then turned to his side's victory, which puts them in the knockout stage with two games to spare.

He said: 'This is important for us, and it gives us the chance now to go on and win the group in our next match here against PSV Eindhoven. Then we can maybe make changes for the last game and give young players European experience.'

On the red card for Fernando, Benitez said: 'It was a headbutt and you could see the blood. You do not like to see things like that on the pitch - you prefer to talk about good football.'

Bordeaux coach Ricardo Gomes blamed the red card for his side's demise.

He said: 'The sending off for Fernando was the turning point. We were disappointed that Liverpool raced away from a throw and did not give the ball back to us after a stoppage. That was not fair play.

'But it was an incident that you cannot condone. In the end it gave Liverpool the extra man and the incentive to go on and win the game.

'Beforehand, we certainly had a chance of an equaliser.'