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Benítez troubled by Marseille flair

Rafael Benítez was concerned how open Liverpool FC were in the 1-0 Group D success against Olympique de Marseille while Erik Gerets believes OM are not far away from becoming a top-class team as they target the UEFA Cup.

Liverpool's Albert Riera (right) competes with Lorik Cana
Liverpool's Albert Riera (right) competes with Lorik Cana ©Getty Images

Rafael Benítez was concerned how open Liverpool FC were despite qualifying for the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League for the fifth year in succession thanks to Steven Gerrard's first-half header against Olympique de Marseille. His counterpart Erik Gerets was surprisingly upbeat after the loss, believing OM are not far away from becoming a top-class team as they target a UEFA Cup spot.

Rafael Benítez, Liverpool manager
It was really important to qualify so we have to be really pleased. It was difficult but at the end of the day we won and we can maybe approach the next game in another way – it depends on the situation of the players. I think the game was strange because we were controlling it and scored but then they began attacking and we were just counterattacking. We were giving the ball away and not giving a good final pass. They had the same problem as they were attacking. The game was too open against a team which has pace and ability and that is always a problem. I think we all know that Steven Gerrard is an offensive midfielder who has a good attacking mentality and can score goals. He is a very important player for us and his goal proves that.

One year we finished first and lost against Benfica and two years we finished second but won against Juventus and Inter Milan so you never know. They decided to attack and were very offensive with three strikers and also one or two between the lines, so trying to control five players with pace and ability was not always easy. We were trying to reach Torres with the final pass maybe too quickly. The main thing was to win and to qualify and we are really pleased. We knew before the game that they have good players so we knew they could be very dangerous if we were not controlling the game and keeping the ball. That was the situation; the game was too open so they had space in which to run and were always a threat. Clearly we need to improve our possession, keep and pass the ball better, as we are giving the ball away too easily.

Erik Gerets, Marseille coach
We had some problems during the first 20 minutes but after that I think it was a good game. We got more into the game and had some chances at the end. We had one day less recuperation but you could not see that on the pitch because we put in a good fight until the end, and the only thing that makes me unhappy is the result. I think we must forget the first 15 minutes as they were better but after that we played quite well – we were much more of a team and played as a unit. I was pleased with the way we played and it was the first time in a long time that the defence and midfield have worked together so well. We had chances right up until the final seconds of the game.

It's just that difference between the top-class sides and maybe the sides just one slight step down. I was here with Galatasaray a few years ago and 3-0 down but managed to fight back to 3-2. Then we had a real good chance to make it 3-3 but didn't score – sometimes it is just the small things that are lacking that make the difference. I think all the players, especially the young players, have learned a lot from the Champions League and what it is like tonight. Apart from one game against PSV [on Matchday 3], when we played particularly badly, we have done well and taken lots of positives.

Tonight we tried to play, tried to build from the back, get the ball forward and play in their half. I think we did that, were never scared and tried to take on Liverpool. We just lacked that certain something that makes the difference against the top teams. This campaign has been successful in giving experience to the younger lads. With everything to play for it is going to be a fiery encounter against Atlético in the last game.