Football

Reds relieved after draw

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admitted his relief at getting away with a draw at the Madejski Stadium after Reading exploited their weaknesses at set-plays and almost snatched a shock FA Cup victory.

Steven Gerrard cancelled out Simon Church's opener, which was bundled in after Ryan Bertrand's free-kick tested Liverpool's zonal marking system. Even after Gerrard levelled, with a cross that Dirk Kuyt dummied to fool Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici, Reading threatened to book their place in the fourth round.

"I'm relieved. To play in front of the TV and against Liverpool I think was a massive boost for them and you could see they played really well," said Benitez.

"They were pushing and working very hard from the beginning until the end so we had to do our job. It was a difficult game and the most positive thing is that we will play another game at Anfield."

Benitez picked a strong team, with Fernando Torres and Gerrard included, signalling his intentions.

"We know that we have two clear chances to win trophies - the Europa League and the FA Cup - so we will try our best in both and keep improving in the league," he said.

"This is the way now so we try to win. Our aim is to win trophies so we have to start winning these games."

Benitez remained tight-lipped about the possibility of Dutch pair Ruud van Nistelrooy and Rafael van der Vaart arriving from Real Madrid.

The Spaniard said it would be ``very, very difficult'' to sign players this month, and added that he wants Ryan Babel to stay at the club.

"He will have a chance to play," he said. "He has to work hard for us. He's our player and he will have his chances. At this moment we are not trying to sell him."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Europa League
Reading
Ryan Babel
Football
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Adam Federici
Dirk Kuyt
Steven Gerrard
Simon Church
Ruud van Nistelrooy
FA Cup
Ryan Bertrand
Liverpool
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