Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher thinks Rafa Benitez made a mistake by leaving Peter Crouch and Craig Bellamy on the bench during the Reds’ 2007 Champions League final loss against AC Milan.
Liverpool were defeated 2-1 in the final by Milan only two years on from the Reds’ famous triumph in Istanbul, coming back from three goals down to win in extraordinary circumstances.
“I’ve never watched that game again. It’s a killer losing a game of that magnitude, knowing how close you are,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“We can’t complain. We were very lucky in 2005 and maybe Milan had a touch of luck in that we were probably the better side.
“But I didn’t come away from the game thinking we’d done enough to win the game if I’m being totally honest.”
Bellamy was left on the bench for the whole contest, while Benitez chose to send on Crouch on 78 minutes after Dirk Kuyt – who scored late on – had started the game as a lone striker.
“It’s easier with hindsight I suppose, but I just look at Craig Bellamy being on the bench that night and not coming on,” Carragher continued.
“I think they had [Paolo] Maldini who was 39, 40 at the time, and you’re thinking ‘oh if we just had Bellamy for 20 minutes running at him…’
“So there are always little regrets, but you’re also lucky to get to a final of that magnitude.”
When put to Carragher – by Jamie Redknapp – that Benitez’s decision to leave out Crouch in the final was also a mistake, Carragher added: “Yeah, you had Crouch and Bellamy both on the bench.
“He played Dirk Kuyt upfront on his own and I think we knew over the next few years Dirk was never going to be a centre-forward who’d play upfront on his own, it wasn’t really his role.
“Even though Dirk scored late on in the game you just feel the aerial ability of Crouch, also the pace of Bellamy, you’d have wanted those two players on the pitch.
“I know Crouchy came on but its always a little regret that Bellamy didn’t come on.”
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