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Rodallega lands heavy blow to Liverpool’s top four hopes

WIGAN ATH (1) vs LIVERPOOL (0)

LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez admitted his side did not deserve to be in the top four after their Champions League hopes were hit by a shock defeat at Wigan.

Hugo Rodallega’s 35th minute volley punished a mistake by Dirk Kuyt and ensured the Reds missed the chance to regain the lead in the race for fourth place.

Instead, and thanks to some sloppy finishing from Fernando Torres, they remain a point adrift in sixth, having played more games than their closest rivals.

“We’re not happy. We have to show more character if we want to be in the top four,” said Benitez, who admitted Wigan deserved to win. “I think we didn’t play well, especially in the first half. We didn’t show attitude.”

Although in touching distance for now, when games in hand have been played Liverpool could find themselves seven points off the last Champions League spot.

A first win in 10 games for Wigan, meanwhile, lifted them four points clear of the relegation zone, although they are far from safe yet.

Torres hit the post early on but the breakthrough came when Kuyt gave the ball away outside his penalty area and Emmerson Boyce crossed for Rodallega to touch home.

A bright spot for Benitez was the return of Glen Johnson, who came on for the first time since December.