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Benitez and Carragher still targeting fourth

Jamie Carragher still believes that Liverpool have every chance of finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League next season - despite Sunday's defeat at arch-rivals Manchester United.

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And manager Rafael Benitez also claiming Liverpool are still in the hunt and that defeat to United was not "a set-back".

Carragher was quick to accept that the latest loss, the tenth Premier League defeat of the season, will put Liverpool under more pressure. However, he thinks Liverpool have the character to overcome adversity.

Manchester City's win at Fulham later on Sunday saw Liverpool drop into sixth place. They now trail fourth-placed Spurs by five points but the Reds have played a game more. Their plight will be made worse should Man City win at home to Everton on Wednesday as the gap will then be six points, and City would still have a game in hand.

Aston Villa are also breathing down the necks of the men from Anfield, being just a point behind with two games in hand.

Liverpool will look to their remaining fixtures as a source of inspiration with Sunderland, Birmingham, Fulham, West Ham United and Burnley coming up.

"We have just got to recover from this as quickly as possible and get on a run of victories,'' said Carragher in the Liverpool Echo. "Of course we believe we can still close the gap. They (Liverpool's rivals) will have difficult spells and we have got to make sure we take maximum points when they do.

"Maybe there will be more criticism of us now and at a club like Liverpool, the pressure is never off. Things are a bit more difficult but we have still got lots of points to play for.

"We did well to a certain point but we played last Monday, then again on Thursday and then had to come into this match. The squad hasn't been strong enough for one reason or another this season but it was still a big ask to go there after that run, particularly as United had all week to prepare.

"But we have lost and you have got to move on, as this was the most difficult fixture we had before the season end.''

Benitez also remains confident his side can secure Champions League qualification

"We knew the game against United would be very tough. The question is now about the other teams,'' said Benitez. "Tottenham won at the weekend but we have to keep going. We know they have to make mistakes and we have to keep winning games to reduce the gap and be there.

"There are still a lot of points to be played for so we have to keep going. If we can win our games we will be there at the end. As a manager you have to believe. It will be more difficult but we have to keep pushing and I think we can do it.

"This year is a difficult year with too many things against but still we have to keep fighting and I am confident the team will be ready for the next game against Sunderland (on Sunday).

"The team was doing well last week, playing well and scoring a lot of goals. You could see they started well against United. If you go there and don't perform or don't show character or are not strong enough that is not good.

"But we showed we can beat anyone if we play well and if we have some chances we have to take them and it could have been totally different. The team was not fantastic but it was not worse than United. You couldn't see the difference in the table out on the pitch.

"I don't think it is a set-back.

"Sometimes you have to attack but sometimes you have to be careful and defend. I don't think we were defending too much [at Old Trafford]. I think we were doing a good job and we were trying to go forward. But you have to create more if you want to be sure [of victory].

"Some games you have one chance and you score and in this case we were disappointed because how many chances did they have? How many saves did Pepe (Reina) make? One or two?

"We were trying to get the second goal against United and if you analyse the people we had on the pitch Kuyt is a striker, Maxi Rodriguez can keep the ball well, and we had Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

"After that we put on Ryan, Yossi and Aquilani, who are offensive players, but we were playing against a good team.''


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