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Friday 13 December 2019

Reina calls on Reds to target Burnley victory

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has called on the team to focus on winning tomorrow's Premier League match at Burnley despite a crucial European semi-final second leg looming in the background.

If they are to stand any chance of snatching fourth place from Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa, the Reds have to win their last three matches and hope the sides above them all collapse in the run-in.

It seems an unlikely scenario, but one which Reina is prepared to believe in to keep their faint Champions League hopes alive.

The danger is that, with Atletico Madrid due at Anfield on Thursday holding a 1-0 lead from the Europa League semi-final first leg, thoughts will start turning to winning silverware at the end of a disappointing season for the Anfield outfit.

"We are still playing for a European place, it is a must-win game because we have to guarantee at least seventh place and then think about something else," said Reina. "They (Burnley) are playing for their survival and for us, in five days, we've been travelling around Europe on trains, planes and buses so it has been very tough, but it is a massive three points."

Not for the first time this season Liverpool had Reina to thank for keeping them in the tie with Atletico at the Vicente Calderon.

He produced a brilliant stop from Simao Sabrosa in the second half that prevented a certain second goal and gave the Reds renewed hope for the return at Anfield.

That is another match they have to win and, without injured striker Fernando Torres, whose campaign has been ended by a second knee operation in three months, the concern is the side lack a cutting edge and, more importantly, a goal threat.

Having watched his team-mates comfortably dispatch West Ham 3-0 on Monday, with Yossi Benayoun and David Ngog on the scoresheet as well as Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green's own goal, Reina is confident the players will respond in Torres's absence.

"We need some goals, we need the people behind us and we need an excellent performance from the team," he added.

"Let's hope everyone stays together, especially as the supporters being behind us will be important for the tie.

"We have players who can score goals so we'll have to see."

Typically, considering Liverpool's injury problems this season, Ngog is a doubt for tomorrow's game after being forced off in the second half against Atletico.

"It is not easy. Ngog is really tired and has a problem with his back," said manager Rafael Benitez of his selection issues.

One man he has no concerns over is Reina, who has been Liverpool's best player all season -- which speaks volumes in itself.

The Spain international has just signed a new long-term contract and on the basis of his displays this season he is well worth it.

"Pepe is one of the best keepers in the world, not just in England, and when you need him he is there," said Benitez of his compatriot.

"He is quick, he's good with position and has good reflexes."

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