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By ESPN Staff

Benitez refuses to discuss his future

Liverpool chief Rafael Benitez side-stepped questions about his job at Anfield as the club's season plunged deeper into crisis following their shock FA Cup replay defeat to Championship strugglers Reading.

• Paper Round: Rafa is responsible
• Report: Liverpool 1-2 Reading
• Harris: Rafa must go
• Maxi Rodriguez signs for Liverpool

Liverpool were booed off after their 2-1 extra-time defeat to the Berkshire side, another night of disaster for the Merseysiders in a campaign that has seen them dumped out of the Champions League while languishing off the pace in the Premier League.

And Benitez will await scans on Thursday on injured stars Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and Fernando Torres (twisted knee) who both came off during the club's third-round exit.

Benitez said: "People have been talking about me for three months, I am used to it. All we can do is continue to work hard, to think only of raising spirits for our next match.

"Everyone is very disappointed, it was a massive competition that we wanted to do well in. As for me, I will continue to do my best all the time, we have to carry on, we have to improve.

"Not only do we have injuries now to Torres and Gerrard again, but Yossi Benayoun has a chest injury too. This has not been our best season. There have been good situations and bad situations. The only way to improve is to be confident and to continue to work hard.''

Liverpool were ahead at the break through a Gerrard shot, deflected home by Reading defender Ryan Bertrand.

They held that lead until injury-time when a disputed penalty was stroked home by Gylfi Sigurdsson to force extra-time, in which substitute Shane Long headed the winner.

Benitez was clearly not happy with the performance of referee Phil Dowd, saying: "There were a lot of things out there I did not like, but I prefer not to say anything more. You could debate for an hour whether it was a penalty or not, but what mattered was that it was awarded.''

Benitez did not want to talk about his own job, and Reading caretaker boss Brian McDermott admitted he forgot to ask chairman John Madejski about his own position after the club's first-ever victory at Anfield.

McDermott, the former Arsenal player, said: "The chairman came into the dressing room after the game and he was overjoyed. And I forgot to ask him about my job.

"But everyone knows that I want the job permanently, we will just have to wait and see what happens. I am just pleased for the club. It was a terrific performance. And I'm especially pleased for our fans who travelled up for the game in some terrible weather.

"We deserved the victory, I felt we were unlucky to be 1-0 down at the break, we had played some great stuff and created several chances and could have been two or three ahead.

"I feared that we would be over-powered and over-awed by the occasion. But we did really well. Watching the final minutes when Liverpool were throwing everything forward, I was frightened to death. So to win at Anfield is terrific.

"We showed great resilience, we defended magnificently and the team showed great confidence against a team with a great history, a great club. We stopped them playing, and I always felt we could win the game even when they were leading right at the end of normal time.

"Was it a penalty? I don't know, but the referee gave it so it had to be a penalty. And Sigurdsson was ice-cool putting it away. What I did not want was an honourable defeat, that didn't happen because we did our jobs well all night. It is great for the club, the staff and everyone who works so hard behind the scenes.''

Match-winner Long said after his first goal of the season: "It was a nice time to score, it's been a long time coming and it's a good win for the boys. Last time we were unlucky not to win it and I think we deserved it today.''

Long insisted there was no doubt about the validity of the spot-kick, when he was brought down by Yossi Benayoun.

"No, definitely not,'' he said. "He was unlucky, I came from the blind side and he caught my ankle.''


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