Gerrard targets quick return to Champions League
Steven Gerrard has urged his Liverpool team-mates to put their disastrous Champions League campaign behind them and concentrate on finishing fourth in the Premier League table.sports Updated: Dec 10, 2009 13:58 IST
Steven Gerrard has urged his Liverpool team-mates to put their disastrous Champions League campaign behind them and concentrate on finishing fourth in the Premier League table.
Rafa Benitez's side bowed out of Europe's top knockout competition on a low note on Wednesday as they lost 2-1 at home to Fiorentina, Alberto Gilardino hitting a stoppage time winner for the Italians.
It left the five-times European champions conducting an inquest into their third defeat in Group E. Liverpool finished third in the four-team table, six points behind second-placed Lyon and eight adrift of group winners Fiorentina.
While Fiorentina can look forward to the last 16 phase, Liverpool drop down to the Europa League.
Gerrard said it was important the team concentrated on climbing the Premier League table, in which Liverpool are seventh, 12 points adrift of leaders Chelsea, ahead of Sunday's game with Arsenal at Anfield.
"We're disappointed at being in the Europa League," said Gerrard. "At this club we try and stay in big competitions for as long as possible, but it's gone now and we have to try and get over it.
"It's another cup there to win. But fourth remains a priority, it always is at this club, both financially and because the top players want to play in the Champions League."
Yossi Benayoun gave Liverpool the lead against Fiorentina before second half goals from Martin Jorgensen and, deep into stoppage time, Gilardino ensured Liverpool bowed out of the competition on a losing note.
The match saw Alberto Aquilani, a 20-million-pound signing from Roma in August, make his long-awaited first start in midfield after recovering from injury. Fernando Torres, who missed the previous five games with a groin injury, also appeared as a substitute in the second half.
"We gave a good account ourselves and were unlucky to lose it at the end," added Gerrard.
"Aquilani did well, he'll take a while before he gets up to speed. You can tell he's a player, he sees a pass, he's on the same wavelength as me.
"I've no doubt he will be a fantastic player for the club."
Benitez was bitterly frustrated at his side's latest setback. Liverpool have now won just twice in nine games.
"It was very clear that it was a difficult game, but in the last minute and we conceded another goal," said the Spaniard. "I hope we will be ready for the next game.
"Now we know Arsenal is an important game to get closer to the top of the table, so it could be the beginning of new options."