Premier League

Henderson still eyeing Euro spot

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Mon, 18 Mar 2013 11:02:00

Paris Saint-Germain boss Carlo Ancelotti refused to criticise his expensively-assembled squad despite watching them squander a 2-0 lead at St Etienne.

PSG appeared set to extend their lead at the Ligue 1 summit to seven points when a Javier Pastore strike and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty put them in complete control at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

But in-form St Etienne produced a spirited response which resulted in an Alex own goal and a Francois Clerc equaliser.

PSG did move five points clear of second-placed Lyon over the weekend following Remi Garde's side's shock 4-1 thrashing at Bastia and Ancelotti preferred to focus on the positives rather than dwell on their wastefulness.

The Italian told the club's official website: "I think it's a good result. It's not easy to win away to St Etienne. They are high on confidence at the moment.

"But we are a little disappointed because we were leading 2-0.

"We played very well in the first half and then things got a little tougher after the break.

"Perhaps that goal we conceded just before half time turned the game. It became a very physical match after that and we struggled a bit more."

Defender Christophe Jallet was not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed by the result.

He said: "We've got mixed feelings because we were up by two goals and we had the game under control.

"We sort of stopped playing and then we started sitting deeper and we handed the confidence back to this St Etienne side. They gave it everything and they managed to equalise.

"But we still added a point to our lead in the standings. But, yes, we are disappointed because we could have had all three points tonight."

The Reds' three-match winning run in the league, which had raised slim hopes of sneaking into the Champions League, was brought to a shuddering halt with the 3-1 loss at St Mary's.

However, while the top four - now nine points away - is realistically out of reach Henderson believes seventh-placed Liverpool can still secure a place in European competition next season.

"It was a big disappointment against Southampton but Europe's not gone yet," he said.

"We've still got eight games to play and that's a lot of points to play for.

"We've still got to play some of the teams above us so we have to keep going.

"We have to pick ourselves up from this and ensure we respond positively against Aston Villa after the international break."

Henderson has played just 56 minutes in the league since his last start on February 11.

He accepts it has been difficult to break into a winning side but is hoping for an opportunity with Joe Allen set to have an operation on a shoulder injury seemingly sooner rather than later after pulling out of Wales' squad yesterday.

"I've just got to keep working hard," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"Before Saturday, the team had been playing brilliantly so I can't complain.

"You can't really change a winning team so I've understood why I've not played.

"I just have to make sure that when the manager needs me I'm ready to take my chance."

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