Yossi Benayoun says Liverpool must not be complacent when they take on Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 second leg at Anfield on Tuesday.
Leading 1-0, thanks to his late winner at the Bernabau, the Israel captain said: “The goal I scored will be worth nothing if we lose. “We will have to be wary because Real are a smart team with quality players. If we let them score first it will make things very difficult for us.”
Despite his dramatic header in Spain and a man-of-the-match performance in the 2-0 league victory over Sunderland on Tuesday night, when he bagged the second goal, he said he is not certain of starting against Real.
He said: “With Rafa you never know. You have no idea whether you’ll be playing until two hours before kick off. I can’t talk about all the rumours regarding Rafa and the ‘mess’ with the American owners but he is the most tactically savvy manager I have played for. He studies and understands everything about the opposition and picks his team accordingly.”
Benayoun feels Liverpool’s Premier League title bid is far from over. “Obviously we are relying on United slipping up. But it can happen and we will be ready to take advantage of it.”
Recalling his 82nd minute winner against Real, he said: “It was certainly one of the greatest goals I have scored.
“I don’t know if it was the most important moment of my career but it was certainly the most ecstatic moment. All I could think of when the goal went in was how happy my wife, Miri, and the children must be, jumping up in front of the TV.
“When the final whistle blew I sprinted to the dressing room, grabbed my mobile, ran into the toilet and phoned Miri because I wanted to share the moment with her. She had told me before the game that she had a very strong feeling that I would score.
“I rarely score with my head. I think I have only ever scored three headers and one of them was against Real Madrid when Racing Santander lost 3-2.”
Benitez said: “Yossi will take confidence from this goal because it was the winning goal in such an important game. He can change games and will be a key player for the rest of the season.”
Benayoun said he received an SMS from Israel national team manager Dror Kashtan after his performance. “He said ‘well done. Now please can you do the same for us against Greece’.
“My two ambitions at the moment are to win a major trophy with Liverpool and to lead Israel to the World Cup finals in South Africa.”