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50-50 Challenge: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

El Clasico 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 29, 2007

Benitez out to repay Reds' faith after win

Rafael Benitez is already turning his attention to Marseille and Liverpool's bid for Champions League survival - after thanking Reds fans for their support in a tough situation.

The Liverpool manager admitted last night's 4-1 triumph over Porto was an emotional experience after a week of speculation that he was about to be sacked because of his continued row with his club's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over transfer policy.

After beating Porto, Benitez described himself as 'really proud of the fans and team' adding he wanted to 'thank them with all my heart.'

He knows, however, that Liverpool must win their last Group A match in Marseille in a fortnight to secure a place in the last 16 knockout stage in the new year.

'It has all be rather emotional for two reasons,' said the Spaniard.

'First, we needed to stay in the Champions League - and then, because of the support I received.

'It has been a difficult few days and something I was not expecting. I was just trying to do my job properly, although at the end of the match I was able to enjoy it all a little bit.

'Now we must maintain this form and keep improving. People now - who had thought we were out of Europe - will say we have a chance. I certainly am happier about the situation than I was six weeks ago.'

After seeing two goals from Fernando Torres and one each from Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch keep Liverpool's dreams alive, Benitez insisted he has no problem with the club owners.

'Firstly I must thank the Liverpool fans - they are always magnificent,' he said, on a night which began with supporters staging a protest march to the stadium to back the manager.

His name was then chanted constantly in a packed stadium.

'I knew what was going on - but I was focused on my team and the game,' he said.

'I promise you; I was only thinking of the game and my responsibilities. But thank you supporters - you were fantastic.'

Benitez then broke his silence of the past few days on more contentious issues.

'I do not have any personal problem with the owners - I was just talking about the club's future,' he said, clarifying previous remarks.

'People have said it was all because of my ego, but that is not the case. I was just surprised a little bit with what has happened.

'I was only trying to improve my club. We will have to wait - but it is a strange situation. But I repeat - I have no problems with the owners.'

Benitez stresses his only motivation is to do as well as he can for Liverpool.

'It is nothing to do with my ego - it is my responsibility to want to improve my team and my squad,' he said.

'I could just do nothing and take my wages at the end of the month. But I need to be involved - and I hope they [the owners] will understand.

'We will talk again, and it is nothing to do with this result putting me in a stronger position - that is not of an consequence.

'I just have ideas for the future. I am in the same situation with the same views that I had before.'