Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has defended his decision to make six changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to Fratton Park, with striker Dirk Kuyt also defending his boss’ tactics.
With captain Steven Gerrard injured, midfielder Lucas Leiva and several top players suffering from fatigue after a busy fixture schedule, Benitez rested the likes of Xabi Alonso, Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Albert Riera from the starting eleven at Portsmouth.
The Reds twice fell behind, but the second half substitutions of Alonso, Kuyt, Torres helped turn the game around for a dramatic 2-3 victory.
Following the game, critics suggested Benitez was lucky to get away with his risk of resting players, but the Spaniard replied, “We saw the quality in the squad. We could have lost but deserved to win.
“We saw a lot of resolve. We saw different players working hard on the pitch, trying to keep the ball, Fernando and Xabi Alonso did that well.”
Torres scored the game’s winner with a head from a Javier Mascherano cross in the second minute of injury time. It was the second time in a week that Torres has scored last minute winners for the Reds, after breaking Chelsea‘s hearts at Anfield last Sunday.
“Torres is part of the squad, but without the other players we would not be where we are,” continued Benitez.
Kuyt also leapt to Benitez’s defence, despite being dropped from the firs team. The Dutchman came off the bench in the second half to score the second equaliser of the game.
He says, “It’s the choice of the boss. Of course, as a player you always want to play, but it is the manager’s choice – and he was right.
“It was a crazy game but we had to win and we did win. Fernando is such an important player for us and he showed that again at the end.”