RAFA: WE SHOULD HAVE SCORED MORE
Rafa Benitez claimed he would have liked to have seen more goals after his side's 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa.
Steven Gerrard took his season's tally to 21 with a hat-trick including two penalties, while further goals for Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera completed the rout.
The whitewash means Liverpool now have a superior goal difference to leaders Manchester United - but the manager would have liked to have seen the net bulge even more.
"The team was doing well but it's true I am not totally happy because we could have scored more goals from the counter attack," said Benitez, who wanted the Reds to push on after the dismissal of Brad Friedel at 4-0.
"We were playing against 10 players and had three or four more chances. It's really important to take them because you never know what's going to happen with the goal difference.
"Today it wasn't key but in other games it has been. I wanted more goals. It's an area we need to improve.
"Don't get me wrong, I am really pleased and happy. The players did a fantastic job but you can always improve."
The result puts Liverpool just one point behind United having played a game more.
On where it leaves the title race, Benitez said: "We said before we needed to do our job and wait for United to make mistakes. Now we are closer but they are still in a much better position. We need to keep going and pushing them.
"You cannot be thinking too much about what they will do and how many mistakes they will make. You cannot have any influence on this.
"We are closer and they will see we are working hard to win games. Every game is like a final for us now.
"They will know we can beat anyone but each game is different so we need to keep this momentum and confidence."
Asked if he thought Manchester United were feeling the pressure following two straight defeats, Benitez responded: "I don't know, talk to Mr Ferguson. My impression is that Liverpool are doing well."
The boss also reserved a word for Pepe Reina, who became the fastest goalkeeper in Liverpool history to keep 100 clean sheets.
"Pepe is a fantastic goalkeeper," he said. "They had some chances and he did well. He's beaten Ray Clemence's record and I am really pleased for him, and also pleased because these kind of saves can keep you in the game."
Benitez confirmed that Gerrard and Fernando Torres would now leave for international duty.
The Spaniard hopes the enforced break from action will not affect his side's momentum.
"If we can keep this momentum it will be good. Hopefully after the international break the players will come back with the same mentality and confidence," he said.
Liverpool could be top of the table before United kick another Premier League ball - not that Benitez is looking too far ahead.
"We have to win and after see the table. I prefer to talk after the game. You can talk about doing this or that but you have to win the game and then talk afterwards."
Meanwhile, Benitez began his press conference with a message to the family of club secretary Bryce Morrison, who died aged 57 yesterday.
He said: "First of all I want to give my sympathy to the family of Bryce Morrison. He is a big loss and yesterday was a sad day."
HAT-TRICK HERO STEVIE THRILLED WITH WIN
Steven Gerrard basked in the glory of his first ever Premier League hat-trick - and then insisted Liverpool are in the mood to run Manchester United all the way in this season's title race.
Liverpool are now just one point behind United at the top of the table after the 5-0 demolition of Aston Villa, during which Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera got onto the scoresheet before Gerrard netted a treble.
United have played one game less than the Reds and so still hold the destiny of the title in their hands, but Gerrard is thrilled Liverpool's championship ambitions are alive and kicking as we enter the closing weeks of the season.
"That result was more than we expected today," said the skipper. "We'd have settled for 1-0 before the game. Villa are a fantastic side although they've had a dip in form of late. We got an early goal and were then able to build on it.
"It was nice for me to get a hat-trick, but the important thing today was winning the game and taking the three points.
"It's important not to get carried away. Manchester United are still capable of winning all of their remaining games and so it's important we focus on ourselves, keep winning, stay on their shoulders and keep piling that pressure on them.
"If they go into games knowing we are ready to pounce if they make mistakes then it will be more difficult for them.
"Everyone knows we're in a rich vein of form at the moment. We're winning games convincingly, but we have to continue to take one game at a time."