Benitez warns Champions League rivals

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Manager Rafael Benitez has warned Liverpool's rivals for Champions League qualification that his side will only get better in the second half of the season.

A 2-0 victory over current fourth-placed side Tottenham lifted the Reds to within one point of their opponents. The race for the final Champions League spot looks like being between Spurs, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City but Benitez is just pleased to be back in it after a couple of difficult months.

"It was important for everyone here because we had to reduce the gap and stay in the race," said the Spaniard.

"I am really pleased with the attitude of the players, we showed character. Normally the last five years we do better in the second half of the league.

"Everyone knows Liverpool are a good team and it was just a question of time to start winning games and showing our quality. Also now some of them (Liverpool's opponents) know the race will be with four teams."

Benitez praised Kuyt for scoring goals at either end of the match, firing home in the sixth minute from the edge of the area and then converting a twice-taken penalty in second-half injury time.

"Dirk works very hard, he could maybe have scored four goals," said the Liverpool boss.

"Always his commitment is 100% so we are really pleased for him too.

"It was important for us to score early. We were playing well but in the first half we were not in control, although we had the better chances.

"The second half was more clear. After the first goal they (Tottenham) had to go forward and left spaces, which was good for us."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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