Liverpool remain in the battle for fourth place and have a chance to win the Europa League but Everton’s season has fallen apart, after an important week for both teams.
The Reds comfortably beat Unirea Urziceni 3-1 in midweek and overcame a stubborn Blackburn Rovers side 2-1 in the Premier League, albeit without playing anywhere near their best in either game.
In contrast, Everton have struggled and after being knocked out of Europe by Sporting Lisbon, while their chances of qualifying for continental competition next season were dashed by a 2-1 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Rafa Benitez can look back on a successful week in terms
of results but performances will still be a concern to the
manager. The Reds did only what was necessary against
the Romanians and actually fell behind early in the game.
His team were also laboured against Blackburn and but for
sharp saves by Pepe Reina, the visitors could have left with
at least a point.
Fernando Torres returned to the starting line-up, and scored
the winner. Steven Gerrard was also on the scoresheet
again, but Alberto Aquilani was an unused substitute,
and has still yet to complete 90 minutes in the league for
Liverpool. Benitez pointedly criticised Sam Allardyce’s tactics
after the game but he himself is in charge of a team playing
pragmatically and struggling for creativity.
As bad a season as Liverpool have endured, the club
enters March still in the hunt for a Champions League place.
They also have a real chance of winning the Europa League and will be confident of beating French side Lille, their next opponents in the last 16.
Everton will go no further in the Europa League after a disappointing 3-0 defeat in Portugal meant Sporting Lisbon triumphed 4-2 on aggregate. David Moyes will point to the late goal they conceded in the first leg at Goodison Park as the key to their failure to progress.
To add to their disappointment, a slow start allowed Tottenham to take control of a vital Premier League game as Spurs went 2-0 up until Yakubu's reply, and although Everton improved in the second half, the London side held on for victory. On-loan American international Landon Donovan missed a glorious opportunity to earn the Toffees a point.
Moyes will rue his side’s poor start to the season because, despite their excellent recent form, they remain too far behind to challenge for a European place. Although at least the top six sides in the league will qualify for Europe, it now seems unlikely that the Blues can catch those above them.
It has been a disappointing year of football for Merseyside but Liverpool may be able to rescue the season if they can finish in the top four and reward the fans with a trip to Hamburg for the Europa League final.
By Chris Shaw, Website Editor
Everton have little left to play for but Liverpool's players are rallying to save the season
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