Pepe Reina believes Liverpool FC's "12th player" will play a significant role at Anfield next week when they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Chelsea FC.
Liverpool FC goalkeeper Pepe Reina believes substantial improvement is required if the five-time European champions are to overturn a first-leg deficit against Chelsea FC and reach a second UEFA Champions League final in three seasons.
'We're still alive'
The 2005 winners went down to a first-half Joe Cole goal at Stamford Bridge but, having struggled to create clear chances themselves, their Spanish goalkeeper acknowledged it might have been much worse. "Fortunately we are still alive and can approach the second leg with belief in ourselves," he said. "We knew it was going to be difficult, we were facing a top side, and in the second half we improved a lot without creating chances. The team was stronger and had more possession, but we cannot repeat this performance in the second game. We will get chances at home and we can score the goal that will take it to extra time."
The Merseyside club might have been left with a mountain to climb at Anfield had it not been for two Reina saves from Frank Lampard, the goalkeeper first reacting smartly to block a low shot early in the game and then diving to his left to palm away a fierce drive from the same player with time running out to keep alive his side's hopes. "Of course 2-0 would have been much worse than 1-0, but to be honest I just did my job," he said modestly. "Lampard's first-half shot was hit straight at me - fortunately I stayed there and he hit me. The other one was a different save, high to my left, but the good thing is we are still alive in the tie and we'll see what happens in the second leg."
'Long way to go'
Liverpool are the last side to beat Chelsea in all competitions, 22 games ago and a confident Reina believes a repeat of Liverpool's 2-0 Premiership victory on 20 January is a possibility, saying: "The result is not definitive so we hope to turn it around with our supporters behind us, we are full of optimism. There's still 90 minutes to go and that's a long time to score a goal. We are confident. We played at home against them in the league and beat them 2-0, so why can we not do it again?"
In the teams' semi-final two years ago the raucous support from the Anfield crowd is widely believed to have played a significant role in Liverpool's second-leg success, and Reina is hoping for a similar atmosphere this time around. "Chelsea had some good solutions tonight but we'll try to give them more problems in the second leg," he said. "The first goal [will be vital]. We wanted to score because we know an away goal is always important but we couldn't do that and we must look forward to the next game. The crowd will be very important, they'll be like a 12th player and have an important part to play in this massive game. They believe in us and we believe in them. We are pretty sure we can do it."