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Benitez upset with short injury time

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May 24, 2007 11:15 IST

Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez said on Wednesday his team could have come back from two goals down against AC Milan but shorter than expected stoppage time dashed their hopes.

AC Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 despite an 89th minute goal by Dirk Kuyt that briefly lifted the English team's hopes of a draw.

Liverpool won the 2005 final against AC Milan after recovering from a 3-0 first-half deficit, forcing a penalty shootout which they then won.

"I don't want to use this as an excuse... but I counted two minutes 45 seconds and 51 hundredths (of stoppage time)," Benitez told reporters. "I had confidence (of drawing) but I was surprised with the stoppage time. We did not have time"

Benitez said Liverpool had started the match well, controlling the game and pushing forward.

"We were there. We were really close. We had chances," he said, adding the Italians' first goal through Filippo Inzaghi just before the break was a lucky deflection that forced Benitez to change his game plan.

"The first half we played really well and conceded a deflection, some bad luck. In the second half, we pushed forward and when you do you leave space between the lines and in the wide spaces and they have quality and that's the difference."

Inzaghi struck again eight minutes from time when he slotted the ball under Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina from close range.

Asked why he did not risk more, Benitez said the Italians were too dangerous, especially after striker Peter Crouch came on for holding midfielder Javier Mascherano, leaving more space in midfield for Milan.

"Risk more?," Benitez said. "Against such a team when you make one mistake they can kill you and you have to be very careful."

Benitez, who took charge in 2004, said Liverpool needed to improve if they wanted to be a contender for the English Premier League title and remain competitive in the Champions League.

"When you lose you need to think about why. We need to start thinking about how to improve the team," he said.

"If we want to be close to Manchester United or Chelsea or in the Champions League, we need to go two steps at a time," he said.

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