Rafa Benitez claimed he would have liked to have seen more goals after his side’s 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa.

Steven Gerrard took his season’s tally to 21 with a hat-trick including two penalties, while further goals for Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera completed the rout.

The whitewash means Liverpool now have a superior goal difference to leaders Manchester United – but the manager wanted to see the net bulge even more.

“The team was doing well but it’s true I am not totally happy because we could have scored more goals,” said Benitez, who wanted the Reds to push on after the dismissal of Brad Friedel at 4-0.

“We were playing against 10 players and had three or four more chances. It’s really important to take them because you never know what’s going to happen with the goal difference.

“Today it wasn’t key but in other games it has been. I wanted more goals. It’s an area we need to improve.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am really pleased and happy. The players did a fantastic job but you can always improve.”

The result puts Liverpool just one point behind United having played a game more.

On where it leaves the title race, Benitez said: “We said before we needed to do our job and wait for United to make mistakes. Now we are closer but they are still in a much better position. We need to keep going and pushing them.

“You cannot be thinking too much about what they will do and how many mistakes they will make. You cannot have any influence on this.

“We are closer and they will see we are working hard to win games. Every game is like a final for us now.

“They will know we can beat anyone but each game is different so we need to keep this momentum and confidence.”

Asked if he thought Manchester United were feeling the pressure following two straight defeats, Benitez responded: “I don’t know, talk to Mr Ferguson. My impression is that Liverpool are doing well.”

The boss also reserved a word for Pepe Reina, who became the fastest goalkeeper in Liverpool history to keep 100 clean sheets.

“Pepe is a fantastic goalkeeper,” he said. “They had some chances and he did well. He’s beaten Ray Clemence’s record and I am really pleased for him, and also pleased because these kind of saves can keep you in the game.”

Benitez confirmed that Gerrard and Fernando Torres would now leave for international duty.

The Spaniard hopes the enforced break from action will not affect his side’s momentum.

“If we can keep this momentum it will be good. Hopefully after the international break the players will come back with the same mentality and confidence,” he said.

Liverpool could be top of the table before United kick another Premier League ball – not that Benitez is looking too far ahead.

“We have to win and after see the table. I prefer to talk after the game. You can talk about doing this or that but you have to win the game and then talk afterwards.”

Meanwhile, Benitez began his press conference with a message to the family of club secretary Bryce Morrison, who died aged 57 yesterday.

He said: “First of all I want to give my sympathy to the family of Bryce Morrison. He is a big loss and yesterday was a sad day.”


~ by awbroady on March 23, 2009.

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