Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mascherano: I've learned my lesson

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has vowed to keep calm when he plays at Old Trafford for the first time since his red card last season.

Just less than 12 months ago, the Argentina captain was sent off a minute before half-time for a second bookable offence when referee Steve Bennett cautioned him for dissent.
The 24-year-old exploded in rage at what he felt was an injustice and had to be escorted from the field by team-mates.
He was subsequently charged with improper conduct by the Football Association and received a two-match suspension in addition to his statutory one-game ban.
Liverpool, trailing 1-0 at the time, went on to concede a further two goals, but Mascherano insists he has learned his lesson and history will not repeat itself in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.
"It was really difficult for me but I am sure that situation will not happen again," said the Argentinian, who believes victory at Old Trafford would give Liverpool a chance of pipping United to the Premier League title.
"We are in the title race and we need to think about winning there and then see what happens.
"First you have to win. The most important thing for us is to try to win and give the supporters a happy day."
Third-placed Liverpool, who trail leaders United by seven points having played one match more, go into the crunch clash against their arch-rivals boosted by a resounding victory over Real Madrid.
Rafael Benitez's side demolished the nine-time European champions 4-0 at Anfield on Tuesday with two goals from Steven Gerrard and one apiece from a sharp-looking Fernando Torres and substitute Andrea Dossena.
The tactics Benitez employed and the manner of victory surprised many but Mascherano feels the players have to use that to inspire them against United.
"From the beginning we were on top of Madrid and we didn't allow them to play," he said.
"We are happy after that result. We know it will be really difficult to play United but we have to try to play in the same way we played on Tuesday.
"We played very well [against Real]. Fernando Torres was unbelievable and hopefully on Saturday he can be the same.
"If we play like that in all the games, it will be difficult for any team to beat us."
Mascherano believes the club's form in Europe - they have not lost in 10 matches (including qualifiers) this season - has lifted everyone's confidence.
Victory over Real saw Liverpool progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the fourth time in the last five years, having won the competition in 2005 and finished runners-up in 2007.
"In the last two or three years we have been playing against top sides and we have proved we can beat them," he said.
"We are in the quarter-finals so the teams are really good but we know, if we play like we did against Madrid, we can beat anyone."

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