Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insisted his team will bounce back in Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash against Chelsea following their Champions League defeat to Fiorentina.
Liverpool were virtual spectators in a mesmerising first 45 minutes from their hosts here on Wednesday in which the Merseysiders were fortunate to head into the dressing rooms at half-time with just a two-goal deficit.
Fiorentina’s fluid passing and busy movement had left the Reds chasing shadows as two-goal hero Stevan Jovetic proved unplayable.
But if the English team improved after the break, it was partly because they could not have got any worse than a first half in which their midfield of Fabio Aurelio and Lucas were overrun and star striker Fernando Torres barely got a touch.
It was more like the Liverpool of old in the second period with Steven Gerrard starting to dictate play, Dirk Kyut getting more involved and Torres becoming a threat.
And that is the football Benitez wants to see at the weekend in a match Liverpool really can’t afford to lose.
“I think it will be totally different, hopefully we will see the Liverpool Football Club of the second half, we will be better,” he claimed before insisting that his team are as strong as ever.
“At half-time we talked about the mistakes we made and how to improve. We tried to find solutions with our mentality and channelling it in the right way.
“It could have been different for us, we knew if we scored an early goal (in the second half) it would put us back in the game but we couldn’t. We had two chances but this was difference.
“We were playing the same players in second half as in the first and it was different because the attitude in first half wasn’t good enough.”
Benitez also complained about the offside rule that deems a player in an offside position but not interfering with play not to be offside.
Former Chelsea forward Mutu was in an offside position on the first goal when Jovetic ran onto Cristiano Zanetti’s through ball to beat Pepe Reina with the Liverpool defence hesitating.
“Clearly this new offside rule changes everything, it’s the best rule in football this offside rule because you don’t know if the player is having an influence or not,” Benitez said bitterly.
“When he’s in front of goal you don’t know if he’s involved, it’s very difficult for everyone. We made a mistake, Jovetic was in a good position but this was another mistake we made.”