Benitez urges Reds to respond

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has challenged his side to keep their Premier League title dreams alive.

The Anfield men were left reeling on Wednesday after their Champions League quarter-final first-leg 3-1 defeat by Chelsea.

But the Spaniard has urged his players to put disappointment aside and make sure they are ready to face a Blackburn team desperate to haul themselves away from the relegation zone tomorrow lunchtime.

Benitez said yesterday: "We have an important league game next so we have to be ready. We have two full days to think and plan for the Blackburn game. That is the first priority now.

"Only after that will Chelsea be the priority in the Champions League second leg on Tuesday.

"We will have Javier Mascherano back from now on for both these games and the rest of the season. He is very important to us now.

"We have to believe anything can happen. Firstly we must do the right things against Blackburn and then go to Chelsea with confidence. If we score first there we will be in the game.

"But at Anfield this weekend I know our fans will be behind us again, that is always the case. They will know what the first priority is, and that is to win a league game.

"They know people make mistakes. But they will be determined to help us through this situation.

"To stop the result against Chelsea having a damaging effect on us, we must keep working really hard and prepare properly for the next game.

"We must find the form that we were showing in the recent weeks. We know we can do that."

Goalkeeper Jose Reina has also called for a positive reaction to the midweek mauling by Chelsea.

Reina could do little about any of Chelsea's goals at Anfield as Liverpool's zonal marking system was twice exploited by Branislav Ivanovic.

"It is Blackburn next, another competition, and we are very much alive in the title race," said Reina.

"It is an important game, and early kick-offs are never easy against a rested team so we have to be ready.

"It is our job to be ready. Whenever we lose games you have to come in the next day and forget about what happened so we can try to move forward and improve.

"We now have to prove to ourselves and our fans that we're still there in the league."

Mascherano will return to the side and there could be a place for central defender Daniel Agger, while full-back Andrea Dossena is also in line for a recall.

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