Substitution was “to protect Torres”

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has defended his decision to take off Fernando Torres after 63 minutes of this afternoon’s 3-1 defeat to Fulham.

The Reds were drawing 1-1 when Benitez substituted Ryan Babel for Torres, who had earlier equalised.

Benitez told the press after the game “We decided to play Fernando against United which was a difficult decision because he wasn’t 100 per cent fit.”

“After this game he needed four days to be ready again but he still isn’t 100 per cent fit, so we had to decide if he could start today or use him for part of the second half. We decided to start with him but I have to protect the player.

“We decided to take him off just after the hour because I want to protect him and don’t want to lose an important player like Fernando for one month. We had options in attack when he came off.”

A criticism often aimed at Benitez from Liverpool fans is that he decides his substitutions before the match has even begun and this again indicates that tactic. The removal of Yossi Benayoun remains un-explained, with the match at 2-1 and still 11 men on, Benayoun was removed and his body language mirrored the thoughts of Liverpool fans who felt he should have remained on in search of an equaliser, instead of bringing on youngster Nathan Eccleston for his league debut.