LIVERPOOL (2) vs TOTTENHAM (0)
RAFAEL BENITEZ last night fired a warning to Liverpool’s top-four rivals after his side moved to within one point of a Champions League place with victory over Tottenham.
Two goals from striker Dirk Kuyt helped put paid to fourth-place Spurs and show the Reds are still very much in the race for a top-four spot.
Benitez has come under fierce criticism this season after a difficult last few months which has brought no fewer than seven league defeats and shock exits from both the Champions League and FA Cup.
But the Spaniard has warned the likes of Spurs, Manchester City and Aston Villa that his side are still in the hunt – and will only get better in the second half of the season.
“[Victory] was important for everyone here because we had to reduce the gap and stay in the race. We showed character,” Benitez said.
“Normally the last five years we do better in the second half of the league. Everyone knows Liverpool are a good team and it was just a question of time to start winning games and showing our quality. Now some of them know the race will be with four teams.”
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp saw his side beaten by Kuyt’s sixth minute opener and injury-time penalty, and was left to rue one of those nights. “I came here thinking we could win tonight so I was disappointed really,” he said. “We missed a chance.”
Rafa is a top-five gaffer, insists Gillett
LIVERPOOL co-owner George Gillett has backed under-fire manager Rafael Benitez to recover from what the American calls “a blip”.
Gillett, seen as less supportive of Benitez than his Reds partner Tom Hicks, said he rated the Spaniard in the top five managers in the world. “We think he’s been tossed a curve ball by circumstance, injuries and so forth,” he said. “He’s had to really make some innovations and play some players out of position and so forth.
“And notwithstanding that, they’ve generally played with a lot of passion. I really believe it’s a blip.”