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Benitez stays defiant after loss

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez
Liverpool boss Benitez feels his side are showing signs of improvement

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez insisted his team remain strong title contenders despite their 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.

Now six points behind leaders Chelsea, Liverpool have already lost more games - three - than they did last season.

But Benitez told BBC Sport: "It is too early. It is a long race and we must keep going. We are playing good football and creating chances.

"We are doing the things that you need to do. But when you have chances, you must score with them."

Benitez was highly critical of his players after their midweek defeat against Fiorentina in the Champions League.

And more sloppiness led to Chelsea's opening goal, which came after Javier Mascherano gave the ball away in midfield.

it was very important to win this game - an important signal

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti

"The defence was much better. There were just one or two things (wrong) and we paid for them," said Benitez.

"We played a good game against a good team but if you make mistakes against them, they will score. The game plan was good, but top-class players make the difference."

The Reds manager added: "He (Mascherano) was doing a good job. We needed fresh legs and he was doing well for us.

"If Fernando Torres' header in the first half had gone in I think it could have been a totally different game."

Despite Liverpool's uncertain start to the season, Benitez predicted title-chasing teams would drop more points during the current campaign than in past years.

"You will see the top sides losing more points against any team," said the Spaniard. "That's good for the Premier League, for the competition, but it means we have to keep going. We can't think about three defeats.

"We drew a lot of games last season. We lost just two but people were telling me about the draws. Now we're winning more and losing a few but maybe we'll have more points."

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who usually shows little emotion, was visibly overjoyed after beating a side he regards as strong title challengers.

The Italian declared: "We are happy because we won an important game against a strong team.


"For us, it was very important to win this game - an important signal.

"This championship is very long. There will be a lot of matches and we want to stay like we were today."

Ancelotti paid tribute to forward Didier Drogba, who set up goals for Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda.

"Didier can do everything. He can score and create chances, and he is doing an important job for us," he said.

"We had good control of the game and had opportunities to score more goals.

"In the first half both teams maintained a good defence and the match was close, but the second half was different."

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see also
Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool
04 Oct 09 |  Premier League
Sunday football as it happened
04 Oct 09 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
04 Oct 09 |  Football

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