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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 7, 2007

Alonso fury over penalty 'cheat' jibes

Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has reacted angrily to suggestions he cheated in trying to win a penalty in the 3-1 FA Cup third round defeat to Arsenal at Anfield.

The match was goalless when the Spain international knocked the ball past Gilberto only to be caught by the Brazilian's two-footed lunge in the 25th minute.

Alonso's fall was a touch on the theatrical side but there was definite contact. However, referee Steve Bennett, stood just five yards away, booked the Liverpool player for diving.

It proved to be a turning point as Tomas Rosicky scored twice in the last eight minutes of the half and although Dirk Kuyt pulled one back with a 71st-minute header Thierry Henry made the result safe late on.

'I felt the contact, that is for sure,' said Alonso.

'People who have watched it on TV have said it was a clear penalty and I felt that on the pitch.

'I was talking to the referee and Gilberto and I said to them there had been contact, that I didn't cheat.

'I was trying to play with the ball and I fell down because of that contact - I was not cheating.'

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez felt Kent official Bennett made an incorrect snap decision, not only in not awarding the spot-kick but also in cautioning the player.

'I felt it was a penalty early on when Xabi Alonso was brought down,' said Benitez.

'I was not happy with the yellow card for Alonso, the card was too quick. Sometimes you need to wait before making a decision that quickly.

'There was contact, but it was not very clear. And if it is not clear then it should not be a yellow card.'

Kuyt, named man of the match, admitted he was hoping his first experience of the FA Cup would have lasted longer than the one highly-charged game at Anfield.

'I loved the FA Cup. I'm really disappointed it (the experience) has stayed with one game,' said the £10million summer signing from Feyenoord.

'In Holland the FA Cup is very famous so it is a shame we didn't go through. It is really disappointing for me but I am already looking forward to next year to play in it again.

'The atmosphere was really incredible. I have a great respect for the crowd and they helped us at difficult moments in the game.'