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Liverpool will keep improving, says Benitez

Manager Rafael Benitez has warned Liverpool's rivals for Champions League qualification that his side will only get better in the second half of the season.

A 2-0 victory over current fourth-placed side Tottenham lifted the Reds to within one point of their opponents.

The race for the final Champions League spot looks like being between Spurs, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City but Benitez is just pleased to be back in it after a couple of difficult months.

"It was important for everyone here because we had to reduce the gap and stay in the race," said the Spaniard.

"I am really pleased with the attitude of the players, we showed character.

"Normally the last five years we do better in the second half of the league.

"Everyone knows Liverpool are a good team and it was just a question of time to start winning games and showing our quality.

"Also now some of them (Liverpool's opponents) know the race will be with four teams."

Benitez praised Kuyt for scoring goals at either end of the match, firing home in the sixth minute from the edge of the area and then converting a twice-taken penalty in second-half injury time.

"Dirk works very hard, he could maybe have scored four goals today," said the Liverpool boss.

"Always his commitment is 100% so we are really pleased for him too.

"It was important for us to score early. We were playing well but in the first half we were not in control, although we had the better chances.

"The second half was more clear. After the first goal they (Tottenham) had to go forward and left spaces, which was good for us."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp acknowledged his side were out-fought by Liverpool but admitted he was baffled by a decision which ruled out a goal for Peter Crouch early in the second half.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos dithered on the ball before surprising Jose Reina with a short back-pass and Jermain Defoe put pressure on the goalkeeper which led to Crouch rolling the ball into an open net.

However, referee Howard Webb's whistle had already gone for an infringement - although no-one was quite sure whether it was for offside or a foul.

"I'll probably sit up at home tonight reading the rule book for a couple of hours and see what the rules actually are," said the Spurs boss.

"The referee nor the linesman seemed to know - they probably phoned a friend.

"Is he active, is it second phase; there are so many rules now. But if it was offside it was offside.

"I haven't really looked at it too much but it makes no difference now."

Redknapp felt his side had squandered an opportunity to put down a marker for fourth place and admitted the race was wide open.

"I came here thinking we could win tonight so I was disappointed really. We missed a chance," he added.

"We needed to get off to a decent start to get the crowd quiet but they scored an early goal.

"To be fair to Liverpool they worked really hard and we found it hard to get our game going.

"It (the race for top four) is open. Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Tottenham - it is a toss-up.

"We've been on a good run but just because we've lost one game it doesn't mean we're out of it.

"It is all to play for still."

Belfast Telegraph