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Besiktas a must-win game for Liverpool, says Benitez

LIVERPOOL, England, Oct 4 (Reuters) Liverpool must win their Champions League match against Besiktas later this month to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages alive, coach Rafael Benitez said.

His side were beaten 1-0 at home by Marseille yesterday to leave them with just one point from their opening two group games. They trail the Group A leading French side by five points and are three behind second-placed Porto.

''It is clear we need to win the next game without thinking about numbers you must have to qualify from the group,'' he told reporters.

''You can set long-term targets, but we just need to win the next game.'' Liverpool travel to Istanbul on Oct. 24 having hit a slump in form in recent weeks.

They were held to two 0-0 draws in the Premier League by Portsmouth and Birmingham before earning an unconvincing 1-0 win at Wigan last Saturday.

They were also held 1-1 in Porto in their first Champions League fixture and lost to a Marseille team that had won just one of their opening nine league games.

Benitez's rotation policy has been criticised by frustrated Liverpool fans, but the coach said he is unsure why his side delivered such a poor display in the loss to Marseille.

''We were playing badly and maybe had some anxiety and were trying to do too many things at the same time,'' he said.

''It's difficult to explain why we played badly, but the other team did press the ball very well.

''It is a bad experience, but we are trying to be positive about the future.'' REUTERS BJR RK1605

Story first published: Thursday, October 4, 2007, 16:40 [IST]
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