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Another Long night for Rafa

Rafael Benitez's position as Liverpool boss will come under even more pressure today following their humiliating third round exit from the FA Cup.

In a season that has gone from bad to worse for the club -- and Benitez -- the Anfield crowd howled their anger after last night's 2-1 replay defeat, in extra-time, by Championship strugglers Reading. Liverpool's support has been solidly behind Benitez in a distressing season, but many in the main stand last night were hurling abuse at the Spaniard.

Benitez side-stepped questions about his job at Anfield as the club's season plunged deeper into crisis.

Liverpool were booed off after their extra-time defeat following another demoralising night for the Merseysiders in a campaign that has seen them dumped out of the Champions League while languishing off the pace in the title race.

To make matters worse, Benitez will await scans on injured stars Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and Fernando Torres (twisted knee) after both came off.

Benitez said: "People have been talking about me for three months, I am used to it.



spirits

"All we can do is continue to work hard, to think only of raising spirits for our next match."

Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow has moved to assure fans the Anfield club will not be forced to sell their star players over the summer.

"Nothing could be further from the truth than reports which suggested the club would choose to sell its star footballers. Full stop," he said.

"The idea that we would ever wish to sell our top players is completely against the interests of this club. In fact our key priority since the summer has been to secure our senior players on long term improved contracts."

Liverpool were ahead at the break through a Gerrard shot, deflected home by Reading defender Ryan Bertrand.

They held that lead until injury-time when a disputed penalty was driven home by Gylfi Sigurdsson to force extra-time, in which substitute Shane Long headed the winner.

Benitez did not want to talk about his own job, and Reading caretaker boss Brian McDermott admitted he forgot to ask chairman John Madejski about his own position after the club's first ever victory at Anfield.



overjoyed

McDermott said: "The chairman came into the dressing room after the game and he was overjoyed. I forgot to ask him about my job.

"But everyone knows that I want the job permanently, we will just have to wait and see what happens.

"I am just pleased for the club. It was a terrific performance. And I'm especially pleased for our fans who travelled up for the game in some terrible weather.

"I feared that we would be overpowered and overawed by the occasion. But we did really well.

"Watching the final minutes when Liverpool were throwing everything forward, I was frightened to death. So to win at Anfield is terrific.

"We showed great resilience, we defended magnificently and the team showed great confidence against a team with a great history, a great club.

"We stopped them playing, and I always felt we could win the game even when they were leading right at the end of normal time.

"Was it a penalty? I don't know, but the referee gave it so it had to be a penalty. And Sigurdsson was ice-cool putting it away."


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