Title chase

Benitez vows to keep pressure on Man Utd

April 26, 2009

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes Manchester United could still crack under the pressure in the title run-in.

United responded to Liverpool's earlier defeat of Hull yesterday by recovering from 2-0 down to maintain their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 5-2 win over Tottenham.

It was the fourth game in succession United had kicked off having temporarily fallen below Liverpool at the summit.

United also have the extra advantage of having a game in hand but Benitez's men have played the more exhilarating football over the past two months and the Spaniard is determined to maintain the momentum.

''We have to keep on winning,'' Benitez said. ''This football is always difficult and United are a good team, but if we keep winning I think maybe they will feel the pressure.

''You never know in football. We have done our job here.''

Liverpool were given a tougher test than they might have expected at the KC Stadium as Hull, battling for survival, pushed hard before eventually going down 3-1.

The Tigers shaded the first half but Liverpool edged ahead before the break with a ferocious strike from Xabi Alonso after his initial attempt, from a controversially-awarded free-kick, had been blocked.

Liverpool asserted further control through Dirk Kuyt after Hull's Caleb Folan was sent off but Geovanni pulled one back for the hosts.

It set up a nervous ending but Kuyt, making his 100th Premier League appearance, finished the game when he stabbed home his second from close range late on.

Benitez paid tribute to Hull for making life difficult in Liverpool's first game since last week's draining 4-4 draw with Arsenal but was also unhappy with the condition of the surface.

''It was a terrible, terrible pitch, really difficult to play,'' he said. ''The ball was like a rabbit and it is difficult to catch a rabbit.

''It was dry and long, terrible. If you lose you can say that is an excuse but we won, so I can explain it was difficult to play on. Pepe Reina was under pressure every time he tried to play the ball.

''We needed to be patient and try to pass the ball. We were a little bit under pressure.

''Credit to them, they played with 10 players and they were still pushing.''

While United face Arsenal in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday, Liverpool now have a week to prepare for their next game against Newcastle at Anfield.

Benitez is hopeful captain Steven Gerrard will be fit to return after missing the last four games - in which Liverpool have scored 15 goals - with a groin injury.