Liverpool 4 Everton 0: Brendan Rodgers eyes Champions League place as Roberto Martinez rues Everton 'naivety'

The Liverpool manager hopes result will act as boost in season run-in

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he felt his side had eased away from Everton in the fight for a Champions League place, delivering a major psychological boost as he seeks to meet the aim of the club's American owners to be back in the elite competition next season. “It's four points clear now of Everton,” Rodgers said after the emphatic Merseyside derby win for 32 years left Everton manager Roberto Martinez ruing the “naivety” of his players.

Daniel Sturridge apologised to fans for reacting angrily to a missed penalty to put Liverpool 5-0 up, with his disappointment also showing when he was substituted soon later. “I want to apologise for my reaction after missing the penalty. I let myself down and the fans,” Sturridge said. “I didn't react in any way [to Rodgers] when I came off. I was just disappointed in how I took the penalty. But it's not about myself. It's about the boys in the team.”

Luis Suarez appeared to be the target for a missiles throw in his direction, which will be the subject of an investigation today - though Rodgers was unaware of the incident and Liverpool have not lodge a complaint.

Of his side's top four aim, Rodgers said: “I think we've shown all season we are going to be in contention. We've shown a wonderful team spirit and we've had players missing but we've set the team up so we're not reliant on one player. To get Suarez and Sturridge in the team it's a bit of a risk because you have to get other players to fill in. Everyone has to work hard for that happen.

“I think we had five shots against us so it was important for us to manage the game. We blocked the spaces. Everton are a good side and have only conceded 11 goals which tell s you have efficient they are. To win the big games you have to attack and defend together.“

The manager said he hoped Liverpool would have a “major signing” over the next few days after missing out to Chelsea on Basel's Egyptian Mohamend Salah. “Hopefully we'll do something over the next few days,” he said.

Martinez said: “In the first half we had a period of 13 or 14 minutes where we got ourselves in a position where we lost the game in a naïve way. We were desperate to come here and be ourselves. We lost our concentration and didn't look solid. We focused on trying to score goals and left ourselves way too open. It became a test of character after the goals. The players who came back didn't have that match intensity. We gave away the ball too easily, to cheaply and left ourselves exposed.”

He denied that it a risk to play Phil Jagielka, who has been struggling with hamstring trouble. “It wasn't a risk. It was a game that we had to have that tempo straight and it was quite difficult. We became a bit ragged. We didn't look after the ball and were an exposed team. Liverpool's front three used that quite well. Unfortunately for us it was a performance that came at the wrong time. We need to get everyone back and match fit.”

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