Benitez concedes fourth place is slipping out of reach
Published 18:49 11/04/10 By MirrorFootball
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has all but conceded his side's hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four are over.
Benitez's side today fell six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City - having played a game more - as they were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Fulham at Anfield.
With just four games remaining, Benitez accepts he is now unlikely to deliver on his "guarantee" of securing a Champions League qualifying position.
The Spaniard said: "It is not in our hands, it depends on the other teams and the difference is too much now, maybe.
"We have to keep going because it is always important to do your best and try to finish as high as possible.
"We will try to win the rest of the games and try to win the Europa League."
Benitez was asked whether he regretted his assertion he could guarantee fourth place but avoided the question.
He said: "It will now be very difficult, we have to be realistic.
"As a manager you have to believe and support your team. We have to keep going."
Liverpool will now turn their attention to the Europa League - both winning it and making sure they at least finish seventh to qualify for it again if not.
The Reds face Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals later this month.
This afternoon's encounter could yet prove a dress rehearsal for the final, with Fulham also through to the last four.
Benitez will hope to find a cutting edge if so, as his team dominated and created numerous chances without managing to break through.
They badly missed top scorer Fernando Torres - missing with a knee injury - but also found Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in top form.
Benitez said: "I am disappointed because I feel that we had plenty of possession.
"We had good chances and it is a game that is normally 1-0 or 2-0, but we couldn't score."
Benitez felt Fulham should have been reduced to 10 men after 35 minutes when Jonathan Greening, already booked, blatantly blocked a Glen Johnson run.
"I will not say too much," Benitez said. "We still deserved to win with 11 players but it is very clear."
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson was pleased with the resilience shown by his side.
The Cottagers created few opportunities but defended with great determination throughout.
Hodgson said: "There is no doubt Liverpool dominated the game and we were forced on to the back foot but at the same time we stood our corner very well and fought very hard.
"We stopped them getting clear-cut chances and it was really when we just lost (Daniel) Agger for a corner at the end that I was concerned the ball was going to go in the back of the net.
"On the occasions when they got good strikes in Mark Schwarzer was equal to it. It is another excellent clean sheet.
"I have got to be very satisfied with what the team has done because Liverpool are a very difficult team to take points off home or away."
Hodgson revealed top scorer Bobby Zamora was replaced midway through the second half to rest slight calf and Achilles problems.