Goalkeeper Pepe Reina is expecting "a complicated second leg" as Liverpool FC look to get past Maccabi Haifa FC and into the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Mark González's late goal earned Liverpool a 2-1 first-leg win but Reina, 24 next week, told uefa.com: "It wasn't a good start to our Champions League campaign conceding a goal to Maccabi at home, because we all know the importance of away goals in Europe. They showed us at Anfield that they are a fast, dangerous team in attack and organised in defence. This will be a complicated second leg.
"We had a lot of possession at home but unless you create scoring opportunities it doesn't count for anything," the Spanish international continued. "In football having possession allows you to control games, but you must make it count." With the match being played on neutral territory in Ukraine because of the delicate political situation in Israel, Reina is aware that his side have an advantage. "It's an away match for both clubs," said the former Villarreal CF No1. "That has to give Liverpool a better chance of getting through and we have to make the most of it."
With a slender lead to protect and the knowledge that one Maccabi goal would turn the tie in the Israeli team's favour, Reina insists Liverpool will adopt a cautious approach at the Valery Lobanovskiy stadium. "We will be relying on the counterattack, which is what Haifa did so well at Anfield," he went on. "They will have to come at us if they want to go through and that may leave gaps for us to exploit. We're not going to change our game though because no matter who or where we play, we always play to win."
Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw in their opening Premiership match at promoted Sheffield United FC on Saturday, but more worrying for the five-time European champions are the injuries to defenders John Arne Riise and Jamie Carragher which rule them out of the Maccabi game.
Nonetheless, Reina believes Liverpool have the quality to reach Thursday's draw for the group stage in Monaco. "Rafael Benítez has described this match as the most important game of our season and I agree," he said. "It has to be the most important, although we all hope there will be plenty more big games to come. We have to qualify for the next round of the UEFA Champions League, it is as simple as that." Maccabi have similar aspirations.
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