Benitez concerned by misfiring Liverpool
Rafael Benitez is concerned by Liverpool's lack of cutting edge after his side needed a penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
Benitez's team were grateful that Swedish referee Martin Hansson decided Steven Gerrard's tumble was worthy of a spot-kick seconds from full-time at Anfield on Tuesday.
Even Gerrard, who smashed in the penalty to keep Liverpool on course for the second round, conceded it was a harsh decision, and Benitez was unimpressed with the way the Reds laboured to kill off Atletico.
They created the better chances but, in a worrying repeat of their misfiring defeat at Tottenham on Sunday, failed to take them and were eventually forced to settle for less than their build-up play deserved.
Gerrard's last-gasp heroics are a regular part of Liverpool's European campaigns and the England midfielder's latest intervention kept his team on course for the last 16.
A win over Marseille at Anfield later this month would clinch qualification from Group D, but Benitez knows Liverpool will have to sharpen up their act to progress much further.
"We were talking before about the character of the team. Five or six times we have come from behind and that is important but we have to take our chances," Benitez said. "It makes a massive difference, especially in the Champions League."
With Fernando Torres out with a hamstring injury and Robbie Keane still searching for his best form, Benitez had few options to shake up his forward line.
The Liverpool manager admitted Torres was unwilling to come back against his former club because his confidence is low after several weeks out of action.
But the Spain striker's absence is starting to prove costly for Liverpool and Benitez hopes he will be ready to play against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
"He was very close to playing but he had no confidence so it was better to keep him in the stands," Benitez said. "He could play this weekend. It depends on the confidence of the player, if he is happy and training well and happy with his fitness."
Benitez highlighted Keane's prodigious workrate as evidence that the £20 million signing is earning his keep, but he hauled him off before the end and it would be no surprise to see the Irish forward left out if Torres returns.
"He is working hard. If you talk about strikers you talk about goals but it depends on luck and good deliveries," Benitez said.
"He is doing his job but sometimes you want to change things. We were creating chances so sometimes you change things because another striker can be lucky."
Atletico were within touching distance of the second round after Maxi Rodriguez capped an incisive break by wrong-footed Jamie Carragher and shooting low into the far corner of Jose Reina's goal in the 37th minute.
Liverpool were always the more threatening side but Keane, David N'Gog and Daniel Agger all missed chances before Gerrard collided with Mariano Pernia to win that controversial spot-kick.
Atletico coach Javier Aguirre took heart from his team's mature display and backed them to get the win needed to qualify against PSV Eindhoven.
"We were solid at the back, well organised and played well against a great side at an imposing stadium," Aguirre said.
"We didn't get the reward we deserved but we shouldn't devalue a point. We have done well in the Champions League and that is helping us rebuild confidence in the league.
"We still need points to qualify and the first objective is to get through. Then if we can let's see if we can come top of the group."