- KILLING DEVILS: Steven Gerrard (left) celebrates with Luis Suarez after Gerrard scored his team’s second goal against Manchester United in an English Premier League match. Liverpool won 3-0. AFPpic
LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard declared his side “genuine contenders” for the Premier League title after scoring two penalties in a 3-0 victory at Manchester United yesterday.
Gerrard broke the deadlock at Old Trafford with a 34th minute spotkick after Rafael da Silva was penalised for handball and made it 2-0 a minute into the second half following a foul on Joe Allen by Phil Jones.
He could have had a hattrick of penalties, putting a third attempt against the post after Nemanja Vidic had been shown a second yellow card for tripping Daniel Sturridge, before Luis Suarez added a late third.
Victory took Liverpool to within four points of leaders Chelsea with a game in hand and although manager Brendan Rodgers has sought to play down his side’s title chances, Gerrard has his eyes firmly on the prize.
“We believe that we can win the league,” he told Sky Sports.
“But the easiest thing in football is to talk the talk. We have to treat (forthcoming opponents) Cardiff and Sunderland the same as Manchester United.
“I maybe got a bit cocky with the last penalty, but scored the two that mattered most.”
While United will turn their attentions to Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 second leg against Olympiakos, when they must seek to overturn a 2-0 deficit, Liverpool have a week to prepare for next weekend’s trip to Cardiff City.
Liverpool will face title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City over the closing weeks of the campaign and Gerrard warned his teammates not to get caught up in the euphoria of a first win at Old Trafford since March 2009.
“I have come here many times before and been played off the park,” he said.
“They are a fantastic team and this is one of the most difficult places to come in the Premier League.
“To come here and dominate from start to finish – we’re still going away slightly disappointed that we didn’t score more goals.
“We will enjoy this, but we’ll need to move on quickly. We’ve showed today that we are genuine contenders and we are going to fight to the end for this.”
United striker Wayne Rooney, Gerrard’s England colleague, described the game as one of the most painful experiences of his entire career.
“It’s one of the worst days I’ve ever had in football,” he told United’s in-house television station, MUTV.
“It’s hard to take. You have to give Liverpool credit – they played well – but it’s difficult to take. Nobody wants to lose, especially in this way, in your own stadium. It’s not nice.”