Soccer / Benayoun plays down praise as Reds cling to top league spot
Yossi Benayoun put on a spectacular two-goal performance Tuesday in Liverpool's 4-4 draw with Arsenal, including a stunning injury-time equalizer, but the Reds midfielder and Israel national team captain says he is in no mood for celebration. As of last night, Liverpool was level on points with Manchester United, but had two more matches under its belt than the Red Devils.
Despite the post-game praise heaped on him by teammates, fans and pundits alike, Benayoun expressed disappointment that his efforts weren't enough to lead the Reds to victory.
"It's very difficult. United are a strong side but we won't give up and we will continue to try and do our best," he told Liverpool's official Web site. "We will keep trying, look to win our remaining matches, and hopefully we can still do it. It was a great game for the supporters to watch but not for us because we made too many mistakes. We should have won the game."
"In the first-half we created four or five really good chances but then they scored with their only shot of the half," Benayoun continue. "We came back strong in the second-half and led 2-1. At that point we were controlling the game but we made more mistakes and then when we had to chase it, they punished us." He added: "We have the best defense in the league and the best goalkeeper, too, but I think we didn't defend well as a team against Arsenal. We scored four goals and still didn't manage to pick up the three points, so I think that shows we should have done better."
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard expressed similar sentiments, but singled out Benayoun as his "man of the match."
"United have a fantastic team and you look at their run-in, look to see where they are going to drop points - it would have been very difficult if we'd lost the game," said the Reds skipper. "I think that point could be big. We'll have to wait and see how big it could be for us.
"Performance-wise, at times we were very good. [Striker Fernando] Torres and Benayoun were frightening going forward. Yossi was my man of the match," he said.
London's Daily Mail gave Benayoun a score of 8 out of 10, claiming he "saved Liverpool." Goal.com's Sulmaan Ahmad called Benayoun "the most underrated player in the English Premier League."
Tuesday's draw also netted hundreds of English soccer fans handsome profits, as betting agencies raised the odds of the match ending in a 4-4 draw from 1 in 300 to 1 in 500 in an effort to encourage people to part with their pence in this difficult economic climate.
In last week's Champions League tie, Liverpool played to a 4-4 draw with Chelsea that knocked the Reds out of the tournament, and betting agencies believed the odds of another goal-heavy match within a week to be exceedingly slim.
Benayoun and company face Hull City on Saturday, the team's fifth-to-last match of the season.