Rafael Benitez managed to salvage some credit as Liverpool manager by earning a 2-0 win over Inter Milan at the Champions League. Inter Milan had not been defeated at any competition for five months. Therefore, the first leg of this match gave them quite a shock.
Some defensive Inter Milan fans would have put the defeat down to the sending-off of Marco Materazzi after just 30 minutes of play, but the first Liverpool goal did not arrive until very late in the game with most of the credit to Milan defender, Ivan Cordoba.
Liverpool played with urgency and passion in order to make up for their turbulent premier league season both at home and away matches. Their commitment really showed at this match.
For most of the second half, Inter Milan looked a bit worn down and subdued and was playing more defensive tactics, leaving no time for risky attacks at Pepe Reina's goal. Liverpool kept 'banging on the door'. Fernando Torres made a great strike on target, but Julio Cesar's renowned goalkeeping skills were enough to just tip the ball round the post.
Milan had their own stroke of luck as an obvious handball, executed by Patrick Viera in their penalty box to block Steven Gerrard's cross, went unpunished.
Peter Crouch came on for Lucas in the 64th minute to push even harder for a goal. A half-volley from him was blocked, but it was progress.
The Liverpool fans were still at Anfield, chanting loudly and waiting for that special moment. Good things come to those who wait, and the good things did come. At 85 minutes, a cross from Jermain Pennant bypassed every Milan defender and Liverpool player apart from Dirk Kuyt, who had enough time to control the ball and hit a deflected shot above Julio Cesar and into the goal.
The entire squad felt more uplifted and confident. Milan had almost nothing left in them now. Towards the end of the match, Gerrard took a wild strike from 25 yards out. The ball hit the post, but ricocheted into the net in order to secure a comfortable lead for the second leg at San Siro in Milan.