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Messi still has plenty left to achieve

Barcelona about an hour ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 13, 2006

Reina: Fourth place is Liverpool's target now

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has all but conceded the Premiership title race is over for them and admitted the players are now concentrating on securing a Champions League spot.

Sunday's 3-0 defeat against Arsenal left Rafael Benitez's men 14 points behind leaders Manchester United and their woeful away record - they have managed just one point and one goal on their travels - has been the major problem.

But Reina believes the 2005 Champions League winners still have a good chance of success in Europe

'Fourth place is our target now - we have to fight for that,' said Reina.

'The championship is probably too far away for us because mathematically Manchester United and Chelsea are very superior.

'But we have a lot of confidence in Europe and that is a target as well. We are probably a better team in the Champions League than in the Premiership.'

With their pre-season hopes of a title challenge now in tatters the Anfield club now know they have to re-assess their expectations as if they fail to reach next season's Champions League - even the qualifying rounds - it will have a significant effect on their finances.

The defeat to Arsenal means Liverpool have now lost to all their main rivals this season and their failure to get anything out of matches against the Gunners, Chelsea and Manchester United has left the Reds way off the pace in the title race even without losses to Everton and Bolton.

Reina, who has suffered his own loss of form this campaign but could not be blamed for any of the goals conceded in a disastrous afternoon at the Emirates stadium, said: 'The game was very disappointing. They were the better team and we haven't played our best game against them.

'We know we've played probably the most difficult away games now already and we have to get going and improve away than home.

'It is not a problem at home but games away to top sides like Arsenal are always difficult.

'We should have been confident [going into the game] after five successive wins and it seemed a good moment for us to play them but Arsenal probably played their best home match of the season.'

England defender Jamie Carragher admitted the defeat at the Emirates had left Liverpool 'hurt' and he called for the team to prove wrong the critics who have claimed they do not have the mental strength to compete with best teams.

'Showing the right character is the least that is expected and something I have been proud to be associated with at Liverpool,' he said.

'It hurts to think that people do not think we are showing that now. We have not thrown in the towel and never will.

'The bottom line now is that we must finish in the top four.'

Carragher added: 'We had big ambitions at the start of the season and that is only what you would expect from a club like Liverpool.

'But we know we must get into fourth place and then start looking at what is ahead of us.'

Carragher, who was fortunate not to be sent off for a second bad tackle at the Emirates after picking up a previous yellow, said: 'It was another disappointing result for us but the key now is to only look forward.

'And although you never want to look beyond our next game, we must remember what we did last season at this stage last season and that is to go on a long, unbeaten run now.

'We know we must improve our away performances and we have to show more character away and in particular when we go a goal down.'