Benitez hails young Reds
Rafa Benitez has lavished praise on his young defenders for their display after their 4-0 defeat of Stoke.
By Jamie Casey
Last Updated: 20/08/09 3:42pm
Rafa Benitez has lavished praise on his young defenders for their attacking display after Liverpool's 4-0 defeat of Stoke at Anfield.
The Reds got their season back on track with the win which included youngsters Emiliano Insua, Daniel Ayala and new signing Glen Johnson across their back line.
With Jamie Carragher schooling the players throughout, Johnson and Insua got forward in abundance on both flanks as Liverpool thumped the Potters with two goals in either half.
However, despite the goal feast, Benitez was keen to point out the importance of the clean sheet after conceding two at the weekend.
"I feel really pleased because we have a clean sheet," Benitez told Sky Sports.
"We knew it was important to score the early goal and then change the game so we continue with the same game plan and the second goal was really important because they needed to go forward."
Benitez was delighted with the attacking display, particularly from Johnson who scored one and set up another on a fine home debut for the £17million signing.
Johnson netted the second goal of the evening when he acrobatically finished the rebound from a Dirk Kuyt header following Steven Gerrard's corner.
"We wanted a player with quality who could score and create goals.
"He attacks very well and had a fine game. Against teams who defend deep
against us, he can change games.
"I was also pleased with Lucas Leiva, he has taken a lot of unfair criticism
from the pundits which is not fair. He is a fine professional and a very good
player, our best in pre-season."
18-year-old Ayala was also making his home debut after coming on in the defeat to Tottenham at the weekend and although he looked nervous at times, Benitez is happy with his showing.
"I think he (Ayala) was quite good in the air sometimes, winning really well," Benitez added.
"Sometimes he looked a little nervous but the first time in the Premier League in Anfield for a very young player it is not easy. He has a little bit more experience now."