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Rafa insists spirited win over Spurs a sign of Reds' revival

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes the spirit shown by his players over the past couple of weeks indicates they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League.

Despite early exits from the Champions League and FA Cup, last night's 2-0 win over Tottenham, currently fourth in the table, lifted his side to within one point of their opponents.

The Reds dominated throughout and had they not conceded a last-minute equaliser to Stoke on Saturday his side would have had 12 points from their past four matches.

But Benitez is confident the attitude displayed by his squad -- who are without the services of the likes of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson because of injury -- is an indicator of better times to come.

Striker Dirk Kuyt scored both goals against Spurs, opening the scoring in the sixth minute and then converting a twice-taken penalty in second-half injury time.

"It is always important to win games, not only for confidence," said Benitez.

"We were playing without six players (regulars Fabio Aurelio and Daniel Agger were also absent) but the rest of the squad showed character.

"All the players know that is the way to do things -- working hard and sometimes getting a bit of luck too.

"It was important for everyone here because we had to reduce the gap and stay in the race.

"Normally, the last five years we do better in the second half of the league.

"Everyone knows Liverpool are a good team and it was just a question of time to start winning games and showing our quality.

"Also, now some of them (Liverpool's opponents) know the race will be with four teams."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp acknowledged his side were out-fought by Liverpool and rued a missed opportunity to create a significant gap between them and one of their main rivals.

"I came here thinking we could win tonight so I was disappointed really. We missed a chance," he said.

"We needed to get off to a decent start to get the crowd quiet but they scored an early goal.

"To be fair to Liverpool, they worked really hard and we found it hard to get our game going.

"It (the race for the top four) is open. Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Tottenham -- it is a toss-up.

"We've been on a good run but just because we've lost one game it doesn't mean we're out of it.

"It is all to play for still."

Meanwhile, George Gillett attempted to put a positive spin on Liverpool's miserable form this season.



Blip

"I really believe it's a blip," the Liverpool co-owner said before last night's match against Tottenham.

Given that Liverpool, going into the game, had already dropped more points in the Premier League this season -- 29 -- than they did throughout the previous campaign, there was about as much credence to that suggestion as his claim that there would be a spade in the ground for the new stadium within 60 days of his and Tom Hicks' takeover almost three years ago.

It was like trying to say that the club's £237m debt was akin to an IOU for the week's groceries.

The point is that Gillett's efforts to gloss over the poor form, or eulogise Benitez when he has done more than most to undermine the manager, carry a very hollow ring. Indeed, Gillett should leave it to Benitez to accentuate the positives.

Looking at Tottenham's line-up, with Peter Crouch in attack and another Liverpool reject, Robbie Keane, on the substitutes' bench, it was fair to wonder if Benitez's team would be in such a state had the manager not been in such a rush to offload them, but then he can ill-afford to look back.

He can only continue to cajole. And he does not need Gillett to help him with that.