Benitez demands five-star Liverpool pile the pressure on Manchester United
23 March 2009 10:21
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Three-sy does it: Gerrard celebrates his treble Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez warned his side they must maintain their momentum if they are going to snatch the Premier League title from Manchester United.
Benitez, who signed a new five-year deal last week, witnessed the 5-0 demolition of 10-man Aston Villa at Anfield that leaves the Reds one point behind the champions, who have a game in hand.
Steven Gerrard scored a dead-ball hat-trick while Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt added the others as Liverpool made it three stunning wins in 12 days having beaten Manchester United and Real Madrid 4-1 and 4-0 respectively.
Liverpool are putting intense pressure on United, who have lost their last two League games and had three players sent off in those matches.
Benitez said: 'As far as the title chase is concerned, we just have to keep doing our job. We must not be concerned about United's results and how they are playing. If United make mistakes, we must be ready, and that means carrying on doing what we are doing and winning points.
'We are playing well and they will see that we are playing well and trying to win every game. We have eight games left and every one must be won and be treated as a cup final. We must maintain this momentum and, when we are playing well, it just increases confidence.
'We now have an international break so the players must come back from that, re-group and start playing again just as we are at the moment.'
For Villa boss Martin O'Neill there was the reality check that his side are still short when it comes to competing with the Big Four.
O'Neill said: 'My players have to learn from this. It is something that the youngsters in my side have to experience. We do not have enough strength in depth, certainly not a big enough squad.
'The big boys have been down this road before, they have the squads and they know how to handle a run-in. We have to play at a consistent level. We cannot just do it one game in four.'
Villa had goalkeeper Brad Friedel sent off in the 64th-minute for bringing down Fernando Torres but by then the visitors were already 4-0 down.
His dismissal capped a miserable day for O'Neill, who added: 'We were well beaten by an exceptional Liverpool side but we did contribute to our own downfall. We played poorly and gave away some lousy goals.'