Gerrard on bench as Fowler starts

Liverpool started their Champions League last-16 first-leg without their skipper Steven Gerrard.

The midfielder has been carrying a slight knee injury since the weekend and boss Rafael Benitez opted to only risk him on the bench, while selecting a particularly attack-minded side against the Portuguese champions who knocked Manchester United out of the competition in the group stage.

Robbie Fowler started up front with Fernando Morientes, while Luis Garcia was also included with Xabi Alonso in central midfield after recovering from a thigh injury.

Benfica v Liverpool teams

Benfica: Moretto, Alcides, Luisao, Anderson, Leo, Robert, Petit, Beto, Manuel, Simao, Nuno Gomes.

Subs: Quim, Mantorras, Karagounis, Karyaka, Marcel, Nelson, Ricardo Rocha.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Luis Garcia, Sissoko, Alonso, Kewell, Morientes, Fowler.

Subs: Dudek, Gerrard, Cisse, Crouch, Hamann, Traore, Warnock.

Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria)

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