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Rafael Benitez: 'Istanbul still the best ever comeback'

:Headline: Rafael Benitez: 'Istanbul still the best ever comeback':
The Spaniard brought European glory to Anfield in 2005.
PA | 5mo

Rafael Benitez has told Jurgen Klopp he still has some way to go to beat his Champions League heroics.

The Spaniard marvelled at Liverpool's stunning 4-0 semi-final second-leg victory over Barcelona on Tuesday night, and Tottenham's remarkable fightback against Ajax 24 hours later, as they set up an all-English showdown in Madrid next month.

However, after seeing a television poll rate the Reds' remarkable fightback in the 2005 final in Istanbul to beat AC Milan on penalties as the more amazing comeback, Benitez, who was in charge at Anfield at the time, could not argue with the verdict.

Asked which was better, the 59-year-old replied with a smile: "It's very clear no, in the poll?

"Come on, no chance. You have 45 minutes, 3-0 against AC Milan, the best team, miles away from anyone, the fans singing at half-time, the Milan fans so happy, and then you go and you score three goals in six minutes and (Jerzy) Dudek's save, and then you go to extra time, you go to the penalties?

"Better than that? Come on. I am telling you, a Turkish friend of mine that was here said, 'Listen, for one year, we were analysing this game'.

"Now, you play a very good game. One thing is the comeback and the atmosphere, the emotions: no chance, that is Istanbul. The other thing, is it a great performance, a great game? Yes, fine, that is good."

Benitez was delighted to see the Reds and Spurs progress, and their Premier League counterparts Arsenal and Chelsea make it to the Europa League final in Baku.

He cited their success as further evidence of the strength of English football's top flight, which draws to a conclusion on Sunday when his Newcastle side travel to face relegated Fulham.

He said: "If it is every year, maybe it is a bad thing. If it is just one year, maybe not. I am sure the teams from the other countries will compete to be there next year."

Newcastle, if not necessarily Benitez – further talks over a contract extension are planned for next week – will compete in the Premier League once again next season having secured their place once again with a strong finish, to the delight of their manager.

He said: "Last year we had 44 points and finished 10th; this year, 10th has 50 points already. That means this season has been more difficult.

"It was a great achievement. It could have been better, but if you analyse the potential of all the teams, I think we did great."

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool88002061424
2Manchester CityMan City85122791816
3Arsenal84311311215
4Leicester CityLeicester8422147714
5Chelsea84221814414
6Crystal Palace842288014
7Burnley8332119212
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham83321111012
9Tottenham HotspurSpurs83231412211
10Bournemouth83231313011
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves82421111010
12Manchester UnitedMan Utd82339819
13Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd82337709
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8233810-29
15Aston Villa8224131218
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8224513-88
17Southampton8215815-77
18Everton8215613-77
19Norwich CityNorwich82061021-116
20Watford8035420-163
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Championship Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom116412113822
2Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest11641169722
3Preston North EndPreston1163223121121
4Swansea CitySwansea11632169721
5Leeds UnitedLeeds11623157820
6Bristol City115511813520
7Fulham1154220101019
8Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds11614169719
9Queens Park RangersQPR116141819-119
10Charlton AthleticCharlton115331512318
11Cardiff CityCardiff114431616016
12Birmingham CityBirmingham115151114-316
13Derby CountyDerby113621515015
14Blackburn RoversBlackburn114251315-214
15Millwall113531014-414
16Hull City113441416-213
17Brentford1133599012
18Luton TownLuton113261520-511
19Wigan AthleticWigan11326916-711
20Middlesbrough112451116-510
21Huddersfield TownHuddersfield112271218-68
22Reading112271117-68
23Barnsley11137822-146
24Stoke CityStoke111281122-115
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