Reading upsets Liverpool in FA Cup
'Penalty was a crucial decision,' says downcast Benitez
Liverpool's troubled season took another turn for the worse when it was eliminated from the FA Cup after second-tier Reading triumphed 2-1 in their third-round replay on Wednesday in London.
The only trophy Liverpool can realistically win is the Europa League, with Rafa Benitez's side out of the Champions League and languishing seventh in the Premier League.
"We have to think about the future," a downbeat Benitez said after losing to a side one place above the League Championship relegation zone. "We will try to do our best."
Liverpool, which had drawn the first leg 1-1 at Reading, was thinking of a fourth-round fixture against Burnley as the replay entered the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time.
But Liverpool winger Yossi Benayoun fouled Shane Long in the penalty area, and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from the spot to send the match into extra time.
"The penalty was a crucial decision," Benitez said when questioned about the referee by broadcaster ITV. "I think we can talk about this for one hour if you want, there were too many things I didn't like but you cannot change the result so we have to move forward."
Steven Gerrard's deflected strike off Reading defender Ryan Bertrand had put the Reds ahead in first-half stoppage time.
Liverpool was already coping without its dynamic duo of striker Fernando Torres and Gerrard. Torres departed with a twisted knee inside the first 30 minutes and Gerrard failed to appear at the start of the second half, with the midfielder believed to have sustained a hamstring strain.
Liverpool struggled as an attacking threat without them and couldn't recover after Long scored from six metres in the 100th minute to give Reading its first-ever win at Anfield.
"The guys were fantastic, we missed three or four good chances, but you have to think you're gonna get another one," Reading caretaker manager Brian McDermott said. "But we were good value tonight — the lads were all brilliant. The chairman (John Madejski) is well pleased, but I'm not worried about getting the job (permanently), I'm just so pleased for him and the players."
In Wednesday's other third-round replay, Newcastle beat Plymouth 3-0 and will go to West Bromwich Albion on Jan. 23. Peter Lovenkrands' hat trick for the Magpies extended their unbeaten run to 13 games.