Gerrard demands ‘bottle’ from improving Reds

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard has called on the side to show “a bit of bottle” when it comes to attacking. Despite improving what was a poor defensive record by their standards over recent weeks, critics still complain the Reds do not have enough going forward to really hurt sides.

The 3-1 victory over Europa League last 32 opponents Unirea Urziceni in Bucharest on Thursday night was the first time since the 6-1 win over Hull on September 26 they had scored more than twice in a match.

Gerrard hopes the players can draw some inspiration from that in their bid to secure Champions League football next season, starting against Blackburn at Anfield on Sunday.

“It was slightly worrying that we were not creating enough,” said the England international.

“To win football matches you have got to create a lot of chances and we did that. That’s what made last night so pleasing. Now we’ve got to get the balance right between now and the end of the season.

“We haven’t been good enough going forward and we haven’t been creating enough, so it was nice to get three goals.

“It does play on your mind. The most important thing is to defend well and keep clean sheets but it is also important that you do well going forward.

“I think we have shown over the last few games that we are back to defending well and are more solid and are working harder and results have improved.”

Gerrard scored the third goal against the Romanian champions at the Steaua Stadium to set a new record. He has now struck 33 times in European competition, taking him past Alan Shearer as the leading British scorer.

“From a personal point of view, it’s always great to break records,” added Gerrard, who scored his first goal since January 2.

“Some of my goals have come against easy opposition, so I don’t think it’s fair to put me above the likes of Alan Shearer.

“To be mentioned in the same breath as that great man is always a pleasure. But what is more pleasing is to progress into the next round (to face Lille).”

Despite struggling at times against Unirea the Reds captain believes Liverpool have what it takes to reach the Europa League final in Hamburg in May. Every competition is very important to this football club, especially when you’ve gone out of other tournaments,” he said.

“This is our last hope of silverware, and it would be terrific if we could go all the way to the final for the fans that have supported us this season.

“There is a long way to go but we want to go all the way to Hamburg but we need to keep improving and working hard.”

It was not all good news from Bucharest, however, after it was confirmed defender Martin Skrtel had broken a metatarsal in his right foot.

Benitez feared the worst last night and X-rays at the club’s Melwood training ground confirmed the Slovakian has suffered a fracture.

“We were really disappointed after the game because it was a good result but then we had the bad news about Martin,” said the Liverpool manager.

“He’s had x-rays today and they confirmed he has a broken metatarsal.

“We have to check over the next couple of days how long it will take to recover.”

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