Benitez hails Liverpool character

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

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