Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yossi Benayoun Sunk Real Madrid

Yossi Benayoun has scored arguably the biggest goal of his career to give Liverpool a magnificent first leg victory over Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu.

With just eight minutes remaining of the Champions League first leg clash in the Spanish capital, Benayoun rose unmarked inside the area to head home an unstoppable goal following a brilliant free kick delivery from Fabio Aurelio.

It was no more than Liverpool deserved after yet another mature, controlled and often dominant performance in Madrid, and Rafael Benitez's men will now be odds on favourites to finish the tie at Anfield and secure a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Rafael Benitez masterminded another magnificent European away triumph as Liverpool confounded the odds with a stunning 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. He has coached Liverpool to remarkable performances away to Juventus, Barcelona, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Chelsea in recent seasons in the Champions League, but this was by far the most impressive.

Real have been rampant of late and unbeaten this year, but Liverpool dug deep and Benayoun headed the late winner to give his side every chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Despite days of intensive treatment, Steven Gerrard did not make the starting XI, the midfielder initially left on the bench. Gerrard's absence was a bad blow but confirmed how Benitez would play the first leg. Contained defence, a combative and mobile midfield and hard running were the order of the day.

In the opening exchanges there was a calmness about Liverpool in this intimidating arena, five tiers of fervent passion pouring down in support of Real. They defended with discipline and long before the break Real were trying their luck from distance. The longer the game went on, the more Liverpool seemed in control defensively.

Liverpool were comfortable and things got even better with eight minutes left, where Gabriel Heinze's foul on Kuyt gave Fabio Aurelio the opportunity to curl in a free-kick that Benayoun headed past Casillas from six yards. Benayoun was engulfed by his jubilant team-mates and way up above them, 3,000 Liverpool fans erupted.

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