Victory at Villa encourages Gerrard

Fernando Torres scored in the third minute of stoppage time after

the ball fortuitously broke to him in the box to settle Tuesday

night’s clash at Villa Park which had appeared to be heading for

stalemate. “That’s what football’s about,” Gerrard told Sky Sports

1. “You’ve got to keep going until the end and when you’ve got guys

like (Torres), there’s always a chance. “When he’s on form, he’s

the best in the world. “We’re hoping it gives us a big boost. The

idea now is to treat the next game like tonight. This means

nothing. It all depends where you are at the end. “It’s important

to build on this. I’m sure we’ll gain a lot of confidence from this

and there’s no excuses now. “We’ve got to win games.” The win took

Liverpool to within two points of their opponents and four of

Tottenham in fourth, the final Champions League place. Gerrard

said: “It’ll be a race until the very end and we’ve got to make

sure we’re in it.” Torres added: “We needed to win to be close to

the top four. It was a massive game for us. “Last season we kept

working until the end and got points in extra time, like today.”

Rafael Benitez paid tribute to his star forward, saying: “He’s a

very, very good player, a key player for us and his record is

amazing. I’m really, really pleased for him and for the team.” He

added: “It was a very difficult game. The pitch was not the best.

We were trying, they were trying. “We had control but they were

dangerous at set pieces. “We need to keep working hard like today.

You could see the team was working everyone together and I think

that’s the only way to change things.” Benitez, whose side have

struggled all season, raised eyebrows when he promised Reds fans

they would still finish in the top four. But he told Sky Sports 1:

“The man has to have confidence in his team so I have to say we

will finish in the top four. “As a manager of your team, you have

to have confidence in your players, you cannot say it any other

way. I’m really surprised people are talking about this.” Glen

Johnson limped off, and Benitez added: “He’ll have to have a scan

but maybe he’ll have a problem with his knee.” Villa boss Martin

O’Neill, whose side lost 3-0 to Arsenal in their first Christmas

fixture, was left to curse their poor fortune. “We definitely

didn’t deserve that,” he said. “We should have had the game out of

sight. Their keeper’s pulled off some unbelievable saves to keep

them in it. “We had the chances to win the game and sometimes it

happens like that. but we didn’t deserve that. It was a cruel blow

to the team. “We’ve given everything. We played two games in 48

hours and we’ve thrown everything at it. “I don’t think it’s any

damage to confidence if we can keep performing.”