Rafa delight at terrific Torres

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Football News

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez hailed Fernando Torres as one of the best strikers in the world after his late goal in the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa reignited the Reds' Champions League hopes.

The Spanish star netted his 50th league goal for Liverpool in the third minute of injury time to become the fastest player to achieve a half-century for the Merseysiders in his 72nd Premier League game.

Victory also enabled them to reduce the gap to fourth-placed Tottenham to four points and moved them within two points of Villa.

Benitez said: "We have scored a late goal and I'm really pleased for Fernando and the team. He has one chance and he can score. He is one of the best strikers in the world."

He added: "It was his 50th league goal and when he signed for us I knew we were getting a very good player with good quality and a good mentality. You saw that here."

Benitez knows the importance of keeping Torres, who has been troubled by a groin problem, fit for the majority of the campaign, although he revealed an ankle injury has also given cause for concern.

He said: "Fernando has had some problems with his ankle more than his groin and he has been working very hard with the fitness coach and the physio.

"It depends on how he feels (in terms of how many games he can play) but today he was okay."

Benitez also repeated his "guarantee" that Liverpool would finish in the top four.

He added: "People keep asking me this but I will say again, the manager has to believe and I believe we will be in the top four at the end of the season."

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