Defiant Benitez won’t rule out catching United
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists his side can still win the Premier League title after watching them overcome Hull 3-1 at the KC Stadium.sports Updated: Apr 26, 2009 11:16 IST
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists his side can still win the Premier League title after watching them overcome Hull 3-1 at the KC Stadium.
Benitez is refusing to give up on his club’s hopes of winning their first championship in two decades, even though Manchester United restored their three- point lead at the top with a 5-2 victory over Tottenham in Saturday’s late game.
While United remain firm favourites, Benitez has urged Liverpool to complete a perfect finish to the season, starting with next Sunday’s home encounter with struggling Newcastle at Anfield.
Benitez will be boosted by the return to fitness of talismanic leader Steven Gerrard, who is poised to shake off a nagging groin problem as Liverpool aim to finish the campaign with four straight wins and hope United slip up.
The England international has missed the last four games but Benitez confirmed that he expected him to be available again for the visit of Alan Shearer’s side.
Goals either side of half-time from Xabi Alonso and Dirk Kuyt at the KC Stadium inspired Liverpool to a crucial victory.
Alonso struck in the 45th minute with a dipping volley to notch his fourth goal of the season before Kuyt helped himself to a second half brace as Hull’s relegation worries increased.
Geovanni pulled a goal back for the home side on 73 minutes to offer the hosts a slim hope of an unlikely fight-back but it was never going to be enough as Kuyt made it three in the final minute.
Hull’s misery was complete when Caleb Folan was shown a straight red card on the hour mark for kicking out at Martin Skrtel and he will now face an automatic three-match suspension.
Benitez has no such worries, however and remains in bullish mood as the race for the title enters the final few laps. Benitez said: “Nothing is over. This was a good win because Hull made it hard for us but all we can do is keep winning and see what happens.
“I would like us to win every game we have left to play. That is all we can do. Stevie is making progress and we expect him to be back for the next game.
“We deserved to win so I am pleased with the three points. It was difficult and we had to work hard but I’m satisfied. “We can still improve, but in football you never know. Winning before them (Manchester United) means we have done our job.”
Hull have now won just two of their last 25 league games and appear destined for relegation.
Their next game is a difficult trip to Aston Villa whilst Sir Alex Ferguson’s side visit the KC Stadium on the final afternoon of the season.
Despite the odds looking stacked against Hull staying up, Brown remains convinced his side can avoid relegation.
He is likely to discipline Irish international Folan with a club fine.
“The fact that we showed great commitment and better quality in the final third gives me no satisfaction whatsoever because we have lost the game. I’m not a good loser,” said Brown.
“We’ve kept our best for the best teams up until now but we need to start beating those around us. That will be the game-plan for the remaining four matches. It will be close.
“But we’ve let Liverpool off the hook. I’ve got no reasons or excuses for the sending off and have no complaints. It will be dealt with in house and this has killed us. Caleb has made life so much easier for them.”
First Published: Apr 26, 2009 11:15 IST