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Benitez backs error-prone keeper Reina

Written by: Staff
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LIVERPOOL, England, Sep 11 (Reuters) Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been given the backing of his manager Rafael Benitez in the wake of his latest high-profile mistake.

The Spanish international was at fault for Everton's third goal in Saturday's 3-0 Merseyside derby defeat.

Reina palmed Lee Carsley's shot up in the air, then backtracking caught the ball under the crossbar. With his momentum about to carry him over the line, Reina released the ball, allowing Andrew Johnson to head home.

That mistake followed on from slip-ups in the FA Cup final last May against West Ham, which Liverpool eventually won on penalties.

''I have a lot of confidence in Pepe Reina after he collected 33 clean sheets last season to improve on Ray Clemence's record for conceding fewest goals,'' Benitez told reporters today.

''We don't need to talk a lot about him because he's a very good goalkeeper.'' Reina will keep his place for Liverpool's opening Champions League Group C clash with PSV Eindhoven tomorrow.

Benitez says his team need to improve their defending if they are to enjoy European success this season.

''We conceded three goals with three mistakes against Everton,'' he added.

''We need to improve our defence. Last season we were doing all these things perfectly and we need to start again and remember everything.'' Benitez added Liverpool will not find it easy to progress from a group also containing Galatasaray and Girondins Bordeaux.

He said: It's a tough group and people are saying it is an easier one than some, but these teams have a lot of experience and Europe and we have to be careful.'' REUTERS PDS BD1615

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