Liverpool face must-win ‘final’

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard is happy that a win will almost certainly be required in Marseille to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.


A flattering 4-1 victory over Porto on Wednesday left Liverpool in third place in

Group A behind the Portuguese and Marseille but the momentum has swung towards the Premier League side after a terrible start to their campaign.


Should Besiktas pull off an unlikely win in Porto in two weeks Liverpool could progress with a draw in the French port city, a scenario rejected by Gerrard.


“It’s better to know you have to win,” Gerrard, whose penalty on Wednesday equalled Michael Owen’s European scoring record for the club, said on Liverpool’s website.


“Sometimes when you know you only need a draw it can play on your mind and affect the performance.


“We know what we have to do now and that’s go over there and win. But we’re feeling confident, we’re in good form and we’re confident we can do what’s needed.”


Gerrard was speaking from bitter experience as the last time he was in a position where a draw was sufficient England lost 3-2 to Croatia at Wembley to miss out on Euro 2008.


Goalkeeper Pepe Reina described the clash in the Stade Velodrome as “a final” bit believes Liverpool’s season is coming together just at the right moment.


“The team is in a really good place at the moment and we are confident we will get through,” said Reina.


“A draw will not be good enough — we have to go there to win. But we are in very good form away, so hopefully this will continue.”


Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Newcastle United in the Premier League and the defeat of Porto has also taken the spotlight off manager Rafael Benitez and his relationship with the club’s American owners.


The Anfield fans gave Benitez a tremendous reception on Wednesday and Reina said the players are behind the Spaniard.


“All that we know is that we are really together and really tight for each other. Our commitment to Liverpool and to our manager is deep,” he said.


Benitez remained cautious about Liverpool’s chances, however.


“People were saying Liverpool could not qualify but now they can see that we can — and possibly finish first also,” he told reporters.


“But Marseille are a difficult team to play against, especially in Marseille where they have a good atmosphere.


“It will be a very tough game. But it is better to be in this position than the one we were in six weeks ago.” — Reuters.