Fourth may be beyond Liverpool admits Benitez

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The Independent Football

Liverpool remain determined to finish the season strongly despite all but admitting defeat in their Champions League chase.

The Reds' hopes of finishing in the Barclays Premier League top four are virtually over after they were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Fulham at Anfield yesterday.

The result left them sixth and trailing fourth-placed Manchester City by six points with just four games remaining and having played once more than the Eastlands outfit.

Liverpool still have the Europa League semi-finals to look forward to but, adding to their woe, it was revealed star striker Fernando Torres is to visit a specialist for assessment of his knee injury.

Manager Rafael Benitez said: "We have to keep going but they have to make mistakes, two or three teams, and the difference is maybe too much now."

Benitez infamously gave a "guarantee" earlier this season that Liverpool would finish in the top four, but when asked if he now regretted that remark he did not answer directly.

"As a manager you have to believe and support your team," he said. "We have to keep going."

Veteran defender Jamie Carragher agreed the top four positions may now be out of reach but was not prepared to give up on the closing games.

The 32-year-old said: "Until we are certainly out of it we will have to keep going for the top four.

"But we have made it a lot more difficult for ourselves and nobody will be expecting top four from us.

"We will see where we go. It might put more pressure on the teams expecting top four and maybe that might work in our favour.

"We had two targets, top four and Europa League. Top four is looking a bit difficult now but the Europa League is all to play for.

"If we could finish with a trophy, it has been a tough season, but that would finish it nicely for us."

Liverpool dominated but badly missed the firepower of top scorer Torres, who failed to feature despite Benitez's hopes his injury was not serious.

Torres scored twice against Benfica on Thursday but showed signs of discomfort throughout and the club are now waiting learn the full extent.

"We don't know really," said Benitez. "It depends on the specialists."

Without Torres, Liverpool squandered a number of opportunities, although Mark Schwarzer did save well from Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano, Alberto Aquilani and Maxi Rodriguez.

The Reds could also feel aggrieved Jonathan Greening was not shown a second yellow card for a blatant block on Glen Johnson 10 minutes before half-time.

Fulham, who are also in the Europa League semi-finals, mustered just two goal attempts compared to Liverpool's 18 but they defended resolutely.

Manager Roy Hodgson said: "There is no doubt Liverpool dominated the game and we were forced onto the back foot but at the same time we stood our corner very well and fought very hard."