Football

Benitez hopes for a favour

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Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez took his side to the top of the Barclays Premier League with victory over West Ham - then challenged Manchester City to blow the title race wide open.

Benitez's men are above Manchester United on goal difference following the 3-0 win at Upton Park, courtesy of two goals from Steven Gerrard and a late Ryan Babel strike. The focus is now on how United, with two games in hand, get on against their neighbours.

"We have done our job," Benitez said. "We have to keep winning, that's all we can do. We needed to get three points and put them under pressure, and now we will be cheering and supporting Manchester City."

He added: "It's a derby and if they make a mistake they will be feeling the pressure. Manchester City are a difficult team to play against."

Fernando Torres returned to Benitez's starting line-up after a hamstring injury and took 76 seconds to make an impact, sending Gerrard through to round Robert Green for the opener.

"If you have Torres and Gerrard on the pitch, it's a massive difference," Benitez said.

"The other team are always thinking 'who will score - Gerrard or Torres?'. It's more difficult for them."

Gerrard's second came seven minutes before the break after Torres was hauled down by Luis Boa Morte, who was furious at being denied a free-kick just before conceding the penalty.

Gerrard's penalty was saved but he tucked home the rebound.

"We're happy with the result, happy with the clean sheet. We've put a little bit more pressure on United," Gerrard told Setanta Sports 1. "If they win their games, fair play to them, they deserve it, but we've got to keep the pressure on. City have just come into a bit of form and derby matches are never easy. We wait and we hope that City can do us a favour - but the important thing is that we do our job."

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Topics:
Ryan Babel
Football
Manchester City
Luis Boa Morte
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Manchester United
Steven Gerrard
Robert Green
Liverpool

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