Liverpool still have European ambitions says Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt is refusing to give up the fight for Europe after helping to drag Liverpool back to within four points of the top five.

The Dutchman's penalty set the Merseysiders on their way to victory at Sunderland yesterday as they cemented their sixth place in the table by taking their return under temporary boss Kenny Dalglish to 20 Barclays Premier League points from a possible 30.

They still trail fifth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in hand, by four points, but Kuyt has vowed not to give up the fight as Liverpool attempt to atone for their Europa League exit last week.

Asked if qualification for Europe was a realistic ambition, Kuyt told BBC Sport: "What's realistic? We have to take it from game to game."

He added: "Now we have to be ready for West Brom and to get another three points, and we will see what happens."

The fact that Liverpool are even in a position to mount a challenge is testament to the job Dalglish has done since taking over at the helm in January, and the clamour for his permanent appointment is growing by the day.

Dalglish insisted after the Sunderland game that he was relaxed about the situation, and dismissed reports he had either asked for a four-year deal or been offered a two-year contract.

Kuyt said: "As soon as things are ready, it is better for everyone. We saw that when the new owners came in.

"The manager has done a great job so far. We have played really well.

"It's disappointing that we were knocked out of Europe, but the way we responded, not only the players, but the management, was terrific."

If Liverpool were deserved winners at the Stadium of Light, they were nudged in the right direction by a controversial decision which left Dalglish's Sunderland counterpart, Steve Bruce, fuming.

Jay Spearing closed down John Mensah and when the defender slipped and allowed the ball to bounce off his chest, the Reds midfielder had a clear run to goal.

In his desperation to make amends, Mensah tripped Spearing and referee Kevin Friend blew for a foul and a free-kick just outside the box.

But after assistant referee Billy Smallwood indicated that the foul had taken place inside the area, Friend gave a penalty, although television replays suggested the referee had been right in the first place.

Kuyt, who had earlier seen two close-range efforts blocked, calmly sent goalkeeper Simon Mignolet the wrong way to give his side a 33rd-minute lead, although he was diplomatic about the decision which gave him the chance to claim his 10th goal of the season.

He said: "It was difficult to see from my position, but these things happen in football.

"I can't decide if it was inside or outside the box. It was the referee's decision and you have to take it as it is. I just wanted to score the penalty."

Mignolet kept the home side in it with fine saves from Luis Suarez and Spearing, and Andy Carroll saw Lee Cattermole clear a towering header off the line, but the Belgian goalkeeper was eventually beaten again 13 minutes from time when the Uruguay international lashed home from a narrow angle.

Carroll is still waiting for his first goal in a Liverpool shirt after three appearances, but Kuyt is confident it is just around the corner.

Kuyt said: "Andy is a very talented player and it is just a matter of time before he is knocking in his goals."

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