Raheem Sterling believes Liverpool can qualify for the Champions League following their win against Southampton - and that he is currently negotiating a new contract to ink a long-term deal at Anfield.
The Reds battled to a 2-0 win at St. Mary's on Sunday evening and Sterling's 10th goal of the season in the 73rd minute falong with Philippe Coutinho's third minute pearler helped Brendan Rodgers' men travel back to Merseyside with three points in the bag.
Liverpool win seen them move to within just two points of the top-four and leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur into sixth following Spurs' 2-2 draw with West Ham United earlier in the day.
It was not one of the most perfect displays ever seen from the five-time European Cup winners. Southampton had the majority of the possession and double the amount of shots that Liverpool had but the Reds battled hard and dug deep to claim victory.
“It's always good to get on the scoresheet and it was especially pleasing that it was the goal that killed the game off"
And Sterling was pleased that his side could "win dirty" on the south coast and feels a Champions League finish is a realistic target come May.
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“It's a great win for us,” the 20-year-old told the Liverpool Echo.
“We knew we had to come here and do the job and we did that. The boys defended really well and we took our chances when they came.
“You have to win dirty at times and we did that today. That was the most important thing.
“It's always good to get on the scoresheet and it was especially pleasing that it was the goal that killed the game off.
“We knew we were top four material from the start of the season. Obviously, it didn't go as planned at the start but now we're showing what we can do.
“Credit to the boys, we just keep to need keep performing and keep fighting and then we'll definitely get to where we want to be.
“All the boys are really up for it. Everyone is fighting hard for the team and defending with their lives.”
Champions League Possible
Whereas once the a top-four finish looked a far distance away, Rodgers' men now look serious contenders to qualify for Europe's elite club competition for a second successive season.
Two points is all that separates Liverpool with fourth-placed Manchester United with Southampton sandwiched a point either side of the pair.
United still have to travel to Anfield and a loss for Louis van Gaal's side could see them drop below the Reds if defeated.
Southampton still have to travel to Manchester City and Chelsea this term and from March into April the Red Devils play Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton - four tough fixtures and just one at home to their city rivals.
The Merseyside club still have to host Manchester City and Arsenal as well as United but they have plenty of momentum behind them. Their win at St. Mary's was their fourth straight victory and extended their record to just one loss in their last 17 games.
Mignolet To The Rescue
Simon Mignolet was busy against Southampton and was forced to be at his very best.
The Belgian made several smart saves and was well off his line to deny Eljero Elia with his chest in the first-period in particular.
Mignolet has completely transformed his form prior to the early stages of the season and Sterling could not be more pleased to his Nivea for Men advert co-star.
“That's football - one week you can be hated, the next week you are loved,” the England international added.
“It's huge credit to Simon because he's been magnificent. He made some great saves and commanded his box well.
“As an outfield player it's great to see. Hopefully he can continue that form and we can keep winning games.”
With Mignolet back at his best, it offers the rest of the Liverpool team confidence. The former Sunderland man now makes instant decisions and does not hesitate and it has a positive effect on the rest of his team-mates.
“We're working on it and hopefully it will be sorted soon"
For weeks there has been plenty of speculation over Sterling signing a new contract on Merseyside.
The 20-year-old has been linked to plenty of Europe's elite club's over the past few months including Real Madrid and Chelsea.
However, Sterling is pleased to remain on Merseyside and is hopeful contract negotiations will be tied up soon.
“We're working on it and hopefully it will be sorted soon,” he added.
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