Liverpool determined to reach semis

Liverpool has a few reasons to believe it can score at least three goals at Chelsea to overturn a 3-1 deficit and reach the Champions League semi-finals.

updated: April 13, 2009 16:05 IST
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Liverpool has a few reasons to believe it can score at least three goals at Chelsea on Tuesday to overturn a 3-1 deficit and reach the Champions League semi-finals for the fourth time in five seasons.

The Reds have already ended Chelsea's 86-match unbeaten home streak this season and completed a Premier League double over the London club for the first time in 19 years.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez will also be encouraged by Chelsea conceding three goals in 11 minutes after leading Bolton 4-0 on Saturday. The Blues clung on to win the league match but that was with captain John Terry, who is suspended for the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

"Conceding those goals was like an alarm clock ringing a warning for this upcoming game," Chelsea manager Gus Hiddink said Monday. "One alarm bell should have been enough, but they were frequently ringing."

Benitez, who won the 2005 Champions League in his first season at Liverpool, hopes to have captain Steven Gerrard in the team. The England midfielder, who is the Reds' top scorer this season, has been responding well to treatment on a groin injury.

"Obviously we do not want him to break down again _ he could then be out for 10 to 16 days _ but the injury is not a massive one. It will be a calculated gamble to play him but one that I will consider," Benitez said. "It makes a difference if we play with him. Clearly we need him, he is a key player for us. Everything can change if he can play and if he plays well."

Hiddink is concerned about the threat posed by Gerrard working in tandem with striker Fernando Torres.

"Torres scored a beautiful first goal for Liverpool at the weekend," Hiddink said of the Reds' 4-0 win over Blackburn. "He is very dangerous, but the supply to him is very important _ it's not just stopping him.

"Several payers are capable of harming us if we are not closing them down or there is a lack of concentration."

Chelsea, which has never lost a European clash after taking a first-leg advantage back to Stamford Bridge, eliminated Liverpool at home in last season's semifinals before losing to Manchester United on penalties in the final.

But Hiddink only has to look back at how Liverpool won its fifth European Cup in 2005 to see the potential for a comeback. The Reds were trailing 3-0 at halftime to AC Milan in Istanbul, but scored three times in the second half to take the final into extra time and a triumphant penalty shootout.

"That is why we are saying we have to be very careful," Hiddink said. "We are not just saying that to be polite, it is fact. Of course we are in a good position, but if we think we can manage it easily then we have lost before the game."

Liverpool has also recently managed to score four goals against Real Madrid, Manchester United and Blackburn, and hit five against Aston Villa.

"I believe the team can score three goals at Chelsea, although it is very difficult because they are a strong team," Torres said. "We can do it. We have confidence, we know we can win the game and we will not panic if we do concede one there, if we score three then it goes to extra time.

"We won away to Manchester United, they scored but we still won 4-1. Chelsea could just defend, but I doubt that. They will want to score themselves and that will give us a chance ourselves."

Chelsea has lost only once since Hiddink took over from Luiz Felipe Scolari, and the 62-year-old Dutchman believes keeping a distance from his players is part of the reason.

"I don't have a close bond because I have to take decisions about people not playing," Hiddink said. "I like to have a direct relationship with the players and we challenge each other in a very open and direct way. I don't want to have a relationship where I might play games with them.

"The managers shouldn't have bonds or relationships with them. Maybe that's for after I've done my job at this club."