Liverpool winger Albert Riera believes the pressure is getting to Manchester United now the Anfield club have turned what seemed like a procession for the English Premier League title into a true race.
Riera scored his fifth goal of the season in a 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday which, combined with United's shock defeat against Fulham, saw the Merseysiders close to within a point of the leaders and reigning champions. Liverpool's victory came hot on the heels of their win at Old Trafford, United's home ground, and Riera said Sir Alex Ferguson's team, bidding to win an unprecedented five major trophies in the one season, now knew they would have to fight hard to retain their English title.
"After the game against United last week when we won at Old Trafford (4-1 to Liverpool), we showed them that we are still fighting and that we will be until the very end," Riera said Monday.
"Now after winning against Villa and with United losing (at Fulham) I think that they can feel us near to them.
"There are a lot of matches to be played in the Premier League and the Champions League and there will be a lot of pressure and I believe that they can feel this," he added.
Riera, reflecting on the Villa match, said: "It was a great performance from everybody in the team and the most important thing is that we had to win, and we did."
Meanwhile Riera himself won praise for his display against Villa from Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, his fellow Spaniard.
"Riera has had his up-and-down moments since joining the club, but his form has improved," Benitez said. "He is now showing the consistency you need to perform in the Premier League."
He is starting to show the form I knew he had when we bought him to the club," added Benitez, who signed Riera for eight million pounds from Spanish club Espanyol in September.