Despite a catastrophic last minute equaliser for Chelsea in the shape of a John Arne Riise own goal to give the Blues the advantage going into the second leg of the Champions League semi-final tie at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday, the Liverpool team still believe they can go to London and get a result.
Dirk Kuyt’s goal shortly before half time had looked to have given Liverpool a slender first leg advantage until Riise, under-pressure from former Reds striker Nicholas Anelka, put the ball in the back of his own net, past a bewildered Pepe Reina to stun Anfield to silence.
Kuyt admits the team were left disappointed by the night’s events, but recalls their away form in Europe this season as a good indicator as to why the Reds can still pull off victory and march to the European Cup Final in Moscow on May 21st.
He said, “We are disappointed but we are ready for next week. People are talking about us not scoring at Stamford Bridge for a long time but you could look at the positive of us scoring in every Champions League away game this season.
“We scored in Milan, we scored at the Emirates. We know we can score next week.”
Manager Rafael Benitez is trying not to blame Riise for the turn in fortunes in the tie. He said, “These kind of situations are really difficult so you cannot blame the player. These kind of balls bouncing are really difficult to defend against. Everyone was really disappointed after the game but the only thing we can do now is to be positive and think about the next game and try to be ready.
“Normally when you concede a goal at the end you must be really disappointed but we know we need to go to Stamford Bridge and win.”
Meanwhile captain Steven Gerrard has backed striker Fernando Torres to tear Chelsea apart when the two teams meet for the second leg next week.
The Reds haven’t scored at Stamford Bridge in either of the two European Cup semi-finals played against them, in 2005 and 2007. But Gerrard reminded one reporter, “We haven’t played there with Fernando Torres, have we?”
Chelsea vs Liverpool at Stamford Bridge is next Wednesday, 30th April. Kick-off is 7.45pm and it is live on Sky Sports.
The other Champions League semi-final first leg, Barcelona vs Manchester United, takes place tonight with a 7.45pm kick-off at the Nou Camp.