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English Premiership

Benitez slams his team

WIGAN, March 9 – Rafael Benitez challenged his Liverpool side to improve their attitude to stand a chance of reaching the Champions League after they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Wigan here on Monday.With nine matches remaining, the Reds are a point adrift of Tottenham, but Spurs, Manchester City and Aston Villa all have games in hand as they battle it out for fourth place.

Liverpool travel to Lille in the Europa League on Thursday but could trail Spurs by four points by the time they return to Premier League action against Portsmouth at Anfield on Monday.

Benitez was bitterly disappointed by the manner of the loss at the DW Stadium, which was Liverpool’s ninth in the Premier League this season.

He was at a loss to explain why Liverpool had put in such a poor performance at a crucial stage in the campaign.

And the Spaniard admitted that a repeat of that display will end their chances of reaching the Champions League.

"We didn’t show attitude and we were behind and after that we were working very hard but working hard without game intelligence," said Benitez.

"It is hard to explain because we prepared for the game properly. We talked a lot about how to approach it. We knew how Wigan would play but there are too many things that we cannot understand.

"At such a crucial moment we should do much better than that so we have to analyse why it happened.

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"You have to be really disappointed. You cannot be happy after a defeat in this way.

"It was difficult to explain.

"When you approach the game like we did tonight (Monday) you cannot win these kind of games or maybe any game. Everybody in the dressing room is really low.

"We have players back now from injury but it is no good getting those players back and playing worse than before -we have to win games.

"It is hard to explain because we prepared for the game properly. We talked a lot about how to approach it. We knew how Wigan would play but there are too many things that we cannot understand.

"At such a crucial moment we should do much better than that so we have to analyse why it happened."

After Fernando Torres hit the post for Liverpool, Hugo Rodallega scored the only goal of the game, making the most of Dirk Kuyt giving the ball away on the edge of the area.

It was Wigan’s first win in eight Premier League matches and their first-ever victory over the Anfield club.

With a trip to fellow strugglers Bolton to come on Saturday, Wigan, who were playing on a re-laid pitch for the first time, move four points clear of the relegation zone.

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And manager Roberto Martinez feels that his policy of playing attractive football has been vindicated.

"It was a huge win because it has been coming," said Martinez, who moved from Championship side Swansea last summer to replace Sunderland-bound Steve Bruce.

"Too many times you try to judge performances by the results and we felt that we had been very close to wrapping up a good performance with a good result.

"I was extremely proud of the response of the Wigan players and many people thought the new pitch would work in Liverpool’s favour.

"Too many people were starting to question the style of play and the way we play.

"It’s huge for confidence but we’re far away from our aim of staying in the Premier League and giving us the chance to carry on improving and growing.

"I sense it is pivotal because the last six games we’ve been very close and the next win was getting harder to achieve and just getting the win in the Premier League at this stage is huge."

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