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By ESPN Staff

Benitez denies pressure is getting to Liverpool

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez insisted that his side are not wilting under the pressure of a title fight, despite their failure to beat neighbours Everton at Anfield on Monday night.

The Reds had looked on course to collect the three points that would have moved them above Manchester United and back to the Premier League summit after Steven Gerrard's 35-yard drive after 68 minutes.

But a late equaliser from Tim Cahill, who headed home unmarked at the near post from a Mikel Arteta free-kick, meant Benitez's side remain behind their north-west rivals on goal difference having also played a game extra.

Despite that the Liverpool boss still maintained: ''The players believe they can challenge for the title.''

He added: ''You are not suffering from pressure after leading until three minutes from time.

''It is not pressure to be level on points with Manchester United in January.

''We are disappointed with how we defended against that late free-kick, and disappointed with giving a free-kick away at that stage so close to our box. It could have been avoided.''

Yossi Benayoun had needlessly conceded that free-kick for a foul on Victor Anichebe.

''I will have to look at that incident again, but we had talked about not conceding free-kicks in that sort of area because Everton's set-plays are good,'' Benitez added.

''But we are still level with United and we know we can play better.

''We will improve as we get more of our injured players back, we still believe we can challenge for the title.''

Everton boss David Moyes believed that his side deserved their goal and the hard-earned point.

It extended Everton's unbeaten run to seven games and Moyes said: ''We showed what we have been doing now for a few weeks. We played with confidence and a draw was certainly a fair result.

''Maybe we could have had a penalty just before they scored, that was disappointing.

''We were still appealing for the penalty when Liverpool broke away and we allowed Steven Gerrard to walk into midfield and score.

''We turned off at that moment. We lost our concentration after not getting the penalty, and Liverpool took advantage.''

Moyes refused to condemn referee Howard Webb for the decision not to award a spot-kick for Martin Skrtel's push on Anichebe.

Moyes said: ''The referee had a very good game. There was a couple of penalty shouts at each end he didn't give them. I am more concerned with how we turned off at the moment we were denied a possible penalty rather than with the referee's decision.''

But Moyes hailed his players for their spirited performance.

''Liverpool have been buying players to win titles, we are not in that league,'' he said.

''But we have showed the stability there is at our club, and how far we have come in the last few years.

''We were able to give Liverpool a really good game on their own pitch and we deserved the point, we earned it.''


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