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Page last updated at 23:49 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Benitez shrugs off derby setback

Rafael Benitez
Benitez had three wins from four past home league meetings with Everton

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez insisted his side were still capable of winning the league despite dropping two points in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Everton's late equaliser has left Liverpool behind Manchester United on goal difference at the top of the table, having played a game more.

"The players believe they can challenge for the title," said Benitez.

"We will improve as we get more of our injured players back. We're still level with United and we can play better."

Benitez rejected criticism that his side were beginning to suffer the pressure of expectation, heightened by the fact the club has not won the league title since 1990.

"You are not suffering from pressure after leading until three minutes from time. It is not pressure to be level on points with Manchester United in January," he said.


Everton's late goal came from a Tim Cahill header in the box after Yossi Benayoun had fouled Victor Anichebe in a dangerous area.

"We are disappointed with how we defended against that late free-kick, and disappointed with giving a free-kick away at that stage so close to our box," added Benitez.

"It could have been avoided. I will have to look at that incident again, but we had talked about not conceding free-kicks in that sort of area because Everton's set-plays are good.

"They played direct football, we could have defended better, but it's January, we're level on points with United so we have to be positive and keep going."

Counterpart David Moyes, by contrast, was full of praise for his players.

"We played really well," he enthused. "We had to defend, as you'd expect against a team top of the league, but the players deserve a lot of credit.

"There is a stability about this club, players know what to expect. They work hard for each other, they're honest and are improving no end.

"We're top of the league as far as spirit goes!"

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see also
Liverpool 1-1 Everton
19 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Man Utd are favourites - Torres
12 Jan 09 |  Liverpool
Liverpool hit by Torres setback
04 Dec 08 |  Liverpool
Benitez relaxed on Reds transfers
06 Jan 09 |  Liverpool

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