FOOTBALL : Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez hailed Jose Reina as “one of the best goalkeepers in the world” after a singular piece of brilliance helped the side to a 2-0 victory in the 212th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez hailed Jose Reina as “one of the best goalkeepers in the world” after a singular piece of brilliance helped the side to a 2-0 victory in the 212th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
With 20 minutes remaining Reina pulled off one of the saves of the season when he dived low to his left to keep out Tim Cahill’s header and then sprung to his feet to block Marouane Fellaini’s follow-up. Both Benitez and Everton boss David Moyes agreed it was a turning point.
“When we signed him we knew he was a good keeper and he is improving here,” Benitez said. “Xavi Valero, our goalkeeping coach, is doing a really good job with him and you can see him improving every day. For me he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and on Sunday he showed why.”
He added: “It was a great save. In this situation he was amazing.”
Benitez was also pleased with the defensive performance after a second successive clean sheet made it five matches without defeat.
“The team defending was very good and that is another positive thing for the future,” said the Spaniard, who felt vice-captain Jamie Carragher was returning to form after a shaky start to the season.
“Daniel Agger and Carragher were doing a good job but (Javier) Mascherano and Lucas Leiva were working so hard in the midfield, helping the defence.
“Carra is the one who can organise them. He showed character again because, after the beginning of the season, he is doing well again.”
The victory moved Liverpool up to fifth in the Barclays Premier League, just two points behind Arsenal, but Benitez issued a note of caution to his players.
“Always it is important to win and winning games in a row is the key if you want to stay high and in the top four,” he said. “We have to go one game at a time. We have done our job and we have some days to go before Blackburn (next Saturday) so we have to enjoy it and then prepare the team for the next week and hopefully a victory.”