LIVERPOOL (2) v/s ATLETICO MADRID (1)
Atletico win on away goals
RAFAEL BENITEZ last night admitted it could take up to five new signings to turn Liverpool into trophy challengers next season after watching his side crash out of the Europa League semi-finals.
The Reds looked favourites to set up an all-English final with Fulham after Yossi Benayoun’s extra-time strike put the hosts in control.
But Atletico striker Diego Forlan – so often the scourge of Liverpool during his days at Manchester United – silenced the Anfield faithful with an all-important away goal seven minutes later.
It left Benitez pondering a disappointing season, which brought a group stage exit in the Champions League and only a slim hope of finishing in the Premier League top four.
Indeed, the Spaniard, heavily linked with the Juventus job, accepted his side’s failure and acknowledged the need for major restructuring work in the summer.
“Someone said we needed four or five players. I would more or less agree with that,” he said. “That is what we have to do
“Liverpool is a massive club. There has been a change in the last two or three years. We have had to balance the books and manage in this way.
“I do not know whether I will have any funds. We will find out in the summer. But the name is there and we have to do our best for it.”
Trailing 1-0 from the first-leg, Benitez’s newest recruit Alberto Aquilani brought the Reds level just before the break after turning the ball home from Benayoun’s cross.
Atletico moved the ball around nicely after the break but after the Reds held on to force the extra period, it was they who looked the more threatening. Indeed, five minutes into the re-start, Benayoun sent Anfield into raptures with a fine first-time volley, but the mood soon changed when Forlan latched onto Jose Antonio Reyes’ pass to steal victory and further dent Liverpool’s season.