Benítez salutes best Liverpool side yet

Rafael Benítez set the best Liverpool FC side of his Anfield reign the target of reaching the final after their defeat of Roberto Mancini's FC Internazionale Milano.

Rafael Benítez congratulates his players
Rafael Benítez congratulates his players ©Getty Images

Roberto Mancini, Inter coach
It's not easy to play with ten men, especially when you are 2-0 down [on aggregate]. This was our main problem in both games against Liverpool and we have to be more careful in this sense. We had good chances to reopen the tie. I think one goal would have changed the game but we missed good opportunities in the first half and another after [Nicolás] Burdisso's sending-off. I was intending to use [Luís] Figo in the second half but had to change my mind after Burdisso's dismissal. My plan was to send on Figo for the last 30 minutes but unfortunately, it was not possible. We are very disappointed because it is always sad to go out of the Champions League. But we are still a great team.

Only two sides can reach the final and I think there is a strong field left. Unfortunately, for the second year running, we arrived at a key moment of the season without important players due to injuries and suspensions. It's not easy when you are missing players. Still, I thought we could do it tonight, but our second red card in as many matches was decisive. Our season, however, goes on. We still have the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia to play for. Liverpool are a team made to play in the Champions League and they have found form at the right time in their campaign.

Rafael Benítez, Liverpool manager
In the first part of the game we had some problems because they were attacking and created two or three good chances to score. However, we also had a few opportunities on the break. In the second half, we had the game under control because it's not easy to play with ten men. I think this is the best Liverpool side I have coached so far. Fernando Torres certainly adds something to the team. We are really pleased with him. His 26 goals are already a great achievement but I would like to see some more until the end of the season.

I don't know how far we can go. In my first year nobody thought we could win the Champions League. Obviously our objective is to reach the final – even better if it is against English opponents. We have shown we are a strong side with two or three great players who can score and change any match, and everybody knows what to do on the pitch. I think we played better today than at Anfield so I think the qualification is fully deserved. We knew the first-leg result was important so we had to play compact and counterattack tonight. I don't know why we achieve better results in Europe compared to the league. However, it's difficult to play your best for nine months instead of just focusing on one or two matches. The Premier League is surely one of the best in the world and the top four are surely among the best teams in Europe, all of them with great players.