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Apr 9, 2009

Hiddink: We hit Liverpool in their weak spot

Manager Guus Hiddink admitted he had been left stunned by Chelsea's shock 3-1 victory against Liverpool in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Anfield but was delighted with the way his team exploited their opponents' weaknesses.

Fernando Torres put the Reds ahead early on, but two headers from set-pieces by Branislav Ivanovic against Liverpool's zonal marking system put Chelsea in control, with Didier Drogba snatching a third to make the Merseysiders' task in the second-leg at Stamford Bridge even more difficult.

Chelsea chief Hiddink hailed his team, saying: "I admit it was an unexpected result, but we are very happy with the win and it was well deserved.

"We pinpointed areas in our opponents' side where we could hurt them. The team could smell that and they took advantage. We talked about that situation again at the break and made sure we continued in the same way."

"We started very sloppily, the jobs we were doing in defence were not as good as they could have been. We let them score far too easily, but I can only compliment my team for their recovery from that set-back. Straight afterwards we could have equalised on two occasions.

"But we reacted well, we scored with a very good set-piece and from then on the confidence flooded through our team. If you feel the opponent can be hurt in some part of their team, it would be stupid not to go for it."

Despite Hiddink's claim that Chelsea exploited weaknesses Reds manager Rafa Benitez insisted it was individual errors and not his defensive system that was to blame for Liverpool's joint-worst defeat in European competition.

Benitez said: "We scored first but after that we were never in control. We conceded a bad equaliser from a set-piece. That was not because of the zonal marking but because players made mistakes to allow people space and time.

"For their first goal there were three players near to the scorer and they were not able to stop him. And then something very similar happened for the second, we made bad mistakes at crucial times.

"Now we know we have a difficult task in the second-leg. We have to score three times and that will be very difficult.

"But we must believe we can do it. We have scored four at Manchester United so we know what we are capable of.

"Chelsea did not really surprise us, and they clearly believe that this is the competition they have most chance of winning now.

"They have won many away games this season, but the way we lost was hard to take."

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