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Rafa fumes over refereeing blunders

Furious Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez blasted the officials for missing Michael Brown's headbutt on Xabi Alonso in his side's 1-0 defeat by Fulham.

A 68th-minute winner from Clint Dempsey put the Cottagers on the brink of Barclays Premiership survival but Brown's first-half attack on Alonso muted the celebrations.

The Spain midfielder required brief treatment after being left with a bloody nose and Benitez was angered by the failure of referee Steve Bennett and his assistant to see the incident.

He said: "It was clear and everybody saw it. When the FA view the replay I suppose they'll take action.

"If the officials had seen it then it could have changed the game. Big money has been spent in the electronics system for the four officials yet nobody could see anything.

"We could save the money spent on that and use it for the academy system because it's not working.

"The officials say to me 'Be careful with the line, be careful with the line', but I don't want to break the line (of the technical area), I want to watch the game.

"I had four players injured in this game - Jose Reina (shoulder), Mohamed Sissoko (knee), Alvaro Arbeloa (ankle) and Xabi Alonso (nose). It's unbelievable.

"You can use 20 referees, 2,000 cameras and a lot of electronic systems but if you don't want to see it you won't. Unbelievable."

Benitez risked infuriating Fulham's relegation rivals by naming a weakened team showing nine changes to the side that defeated Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

But the Reds would still have been out of sight at half-time had Craig Bellamy and Robbie Fowler brought their shooting boots while Fulham keeper Antti Niemi was in fine form.

Benitez said: "If you want to win you need to take chances. We had chances but couldn't score. They had a chance and scored.

"I can understand other managers' frustration at the team we chose. But each manager has to do what's best for his club.

"But we still had five clear chances today but missed them and if that's happened then you can't do anything else as a manager."

Fulham caretaker-boss Lawrie Sanchez revealed Brown claimed his clash with Alonso was an accident.

He said: "I didn't see the incident but saw Alonso have treatment on the side of the pitch.

"I asked Browny what happened at half-time and he said they ran into each other, there was no headbutt.

"I believe my captain if he says that. He did say they clashed heads but added there was no intent.

"What will be will be - it's not for me to decide what the Football Association will do."

Fulham travel to Middlesbrough for their final match of the season and Sanchez, who will be overseeing his final game in charge, will not celebrate escaping the drop until his side are 100% safe.

He said: "People tell me it's still mathematically possible to be relegated so until it's proven we're safe I'll save the relief.

"But we took a big, big step today. It was a big ask of the players.

"The players proved they're good enough with two good halves and they did it front of their own fans.

"I was brought here to keep Fulham in the Premiership and we're close to that now."

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