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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Apr 21, 2009

Rueful Benitez counts cost of individual errors

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez cursed the "massive'' mistakes which cost his side victory at home to Arsenal and handed the initiative back to Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

The Reds came from behind three times to snatch a 4-4 draw in the third minute of stoppage time.

However, the result hands a huge advantage to United, who are second only on goal difference and have two matches in hand - the first at home to Portsmouth on Wednesday.

"It is really disappointing because we conceded four goals and normally we were not conceding these kind of goals,'' he said. "We made massive mistakes. It is difficult to explain because it was different players in different stages of the game.

"You don't remember any save from Pepe (Jose Reina), it is just four chances and four goals and all of them have been our mistakes. For me the most disappointing goal was the last one, from a corner (to Liverpool). You have to control it outside the box.''

Liverpool paid a high price for a number of uncharacteristic defensive errors.

Having dominated play for more than half an hour Javier Mascherano gave away possession on the edge of the penalty area and Cesc Fabregas crossed for Andrei Arshavin to fire in off the underside of the crossbar.

Within 11 minutes of the second half kicking off the hosts were ahead after headers from Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun, the latter's clearly crossing the line despite Lukasz Fabianski's desperate attempt to claw it back.

Alvaro Arbeloa failed to control Jamie Carragher's defensive header and Arshavin nipped in to blast a second and the Russian completed his hat-trick when Fabio Aurelio played the ball into his path 10 yards from goal in the 70th minute.

Torres scored his second with a smart turn to beat Mikael Silvestre, Arshavin converted an injury-time counter-attack to put Arsenal 4-3 up but there was still time left for Benayoun to score another equaliser very late on.

It puts a dent in their bid for a first title in 19 years but Benitez remained hopeful there were still a few twists left in the championship race.

"United are in the driving seat and we will see what happens tomorrow,'' he added. "If they win it will be more difficult but they have to win and they also have to play against Arsenal so we will see.

"The positive thing is we have scored four goals against Arsenal and it was a good game. The other positive thing was the team fighting and working hard and we know this has to be the way until the end of the season.''

Manager Arsene Wenger had mixed emotions about the result.

"It was a game at a frenetic pace of top quality technically, and you could see both teams created many chances,'' he said. "We are half-happy because we scored four goals and half-unhappy because we conceded four.

"Also, 4-3 up with two minutes to go, the team is disappointed [to draw] but I give credit to my team for a great performance tonight.''

Arshavin put in the best performance by an Arsenal player at Anfield since Julio Baptista scored four in the 6-3 Carling Cup quarter-final victory in January 2007.

The Gunners boss paid tribute to his £15million January signing from Zenit St Petersburg, saying: "He can play everywhere, like all the great players.

"He scored four goals but he was at the end of some good combination play. He has a lot of tricks and a short backlift and that makes him very dangerous.''

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