Posted on April 23, 2008
Steven Gerrard believes Fernando Torres can help Liverpool end their poor record at Stamford Bridge and reach the Champions League final.
In manager Rafael Benitez’s four seasons in charge of Liverpool they have not even scored a goal on Chelsea’s ground.
But Gerrard shrugged off those damning statistics by saying: “We haven’t gone there with Torres in our side before.”
Liverpool have fired blanks on eight occasions at Stamford Bridge under Benitez – two Champions League 0-0 draws and a goalless Premier League game there this term are the best the Merseysiders have managed.
Now all that has to change if Liverpool are going to reach the European Cup final in Moscow on May 21.
Chelsea have only been beaten at home by Barcelona in those four seasons, having built Stamford Bridge into a fortress.
So after Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first-leg 1-1 draw at Anfield between sides who have clashed 19 times during Benitez’s four-year reign, Liverpool will have to re-write history.
Gerrard and his team suffered the agony of John Arne Riise’s 95th minute own goal as a priceless victory was snatched from them.
And they have it all to do in the capital next Wednesday to stop Chelsea reaching their first European Cup final.
But Gerrard remained defiant, saying: “We have the players and the belief. We’ve done it so many times, this team never knows when it is beaten.
“We may not have scored or won at Chelsea in four years, but we haven’t been there with Fernando in the team before.
“Even the two games there this season, the league draw and the Carling Cup defeat, Fernando wasn’t playing.”
Torres, who has 30 goals this season, had a rare off-night under the close attention of centre-back John Terry.
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech also produced two wonderful saves from the Spaniard to keep the west Londoners in the tie.
Dirk Kuyt put the hosts ahead in the first half, and Liverpool had enough clear chances to put the game beyond Chelsea long before Riise’s howler.
Gerrard said: “Chelsea know they will be in for a tough time next week, there may be a little more space for Fernando, and I don’t hear any of their players thinking it’s all over.
“Torres can cause any defence problems. You saw that in the first leg. He was very disappointed not to score.
“We’ve been to Inter Milan and Arsenal in this season’s run and scored. So I can’t see why we cannot score at Stamford Bridge.
“We created the better chances at Anfield and I don’t recall Pepe Reina having anything to do except pick the ball out of the net.
“Cech pulled off two or three fantastic saves and we believe that even if we had come off that pitch winning 1-0, it should have been at least 2-0 or 3-0.”
With full-back Fabio Aurelio now out for at least a fortnight with a recurrence of his abductor muscle injury, Riise will almost certainly have to play from the start in the second leg.
But Gerrard had words of encouragement for his Norwegian team-mate, whose future at Anfield has been in doubt for some months.
Gerrard said: “John has been here a long time and done great things for this club and as captain I cannot point any fingers. But we’ve got to get John’s head right, because he will have an important job to play next week.”
Centre-back Jamie Carragher also refused to blame Riise for Liverpool’s last-ditch anguish.
The defender, who fought a tremendous running battle with Didier Drogba, said: “There is no blame attached to John because there’s a couple of things we could have done to stop the cross coming into the box.
“It is a team game and we are all in it together. It affects all of us and we have got to move on now.
“We know it is going to be tough. There is a slight advantage to them now. But if we get a goal, it’s advantage Liverpool.
“So we have got to go there and score with time to get another one. They are very tough defensively so it is going to be hard to score, but it’s about time we did there.
“It is a different scenario now. We go there knowing we have got to score, so it is a different mentality altogether now.”