Wednesday 23rd August 2006


Crouch winner sealed it

Rafa has spoken following the game expressing his pleasure at the result but disappointment with the overall performance.

"It was a difficult game but it's good to have qualified. I am really happy," said Benitez. "It's not been easy to start pre-season without some players and our results in pre-season were not the best so it's always a relief to come through a tie like this. I am sure that once the international break is out of the way you will see the team improve.

"In the first half we had a lot of clear chances but their goalkeeper was fantastic. In my opinion, he was man of the match. We had some problems towards the end defensively but that is normal when a team is chasing the game. In these situations we need to score again to kill the game.

"But it was very disappointing to lose another two players through injury. Stephen's is hopefully not too serious but Momo could be out for two or three weeks. We will have to see."

Haifa coach Roni Levy said Uefa's decision to switch the tie to Kiev due to the Middle East conflict had not helped his side.

"It was always going to be difficult for us with the way we had to play here in Kiev and not in Israel.

"At this level of competition, home advantage is crucial.

"Liverpool got a very late winner at Anfield because of their home backing, and we would have done much better had we been on home soil.

"Do not forget we were playing one of Europe's biggest clubs and held them to a draw.

"Maybe in Israel it would have been different.

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posted by: Ian Darwin August 23, 2006 0:12 AM