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English Premiership

Rafa backs Gerrard

LIVERPOOL, March 10 – Rafael Benitez defended his Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard on Wednesday after it was confirmed the midfielder would escape official censure for an alleged V-sign at a referee.
Television pictures appeared to show England international Gerrard gesturing angrily towards referee Andre Marriner after he was booked during a 1-0 Premier League defeat away to Wigan on Monday.

That loss at the DW Stadium dented Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League but the prospect of it being made worse by disciplinary action against Gerrard disappeared on Wednesday.

England’s governing Football Association indicated Marriner had seen the ‘incident’ at the time but did not deem it worthy of further punishment.

In those circumstances, the FA cannot take retrospective action.

Benitez said after the game he had not seen the incident and after reviewing it on video he insisted on Wednesday: "Sometimes you move your fingers. It was nothing. We are not considering it, it was nothing.

"All the players know they have to behave on the pitch. I was more worried about the silly fouls we were giving to Wigan."

After the match, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan criticised Liverpool’s American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks for failing to understand the traditions of the Anfield club.

An annoyed Benitez said: "I do not talk about Wigan. I prefer to concentrate on my team. He (Whelan) should talk about his own club."

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Now Liverpool will look to restore morale away to French side Lille in the Europa League on Thursday.

"We had been working well in the last 10 games, more or less," Benitez said. "Sometimes these things happen. Now we have to move forward.

"Hopefully there will be a reaction in Lille," the Spaniard added. "This is an opportunity to put things right and try to get a good result.

"In football you sometimes prefer to rest but at this time it is good to have a match quickly after what happened at Wigan."

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