Liverpool’s bid for a top-four finish was dealt another blow as they lost 2-1 to Manchester United, who moved back to the top of the Premier League after coming from behind to beat their fierce rival at Old Trafford.

Tottenham will move seven points clear of Liverpool if they win their game in hand and I can’t see Rafa Benitez’s side recovering if this happens with so few games left.

Fernando Torres gave Liverpool the perfect start when he guided a header in to the top corner from Dirk Kuyt’s cross, but the lead lasted only five minutes when Javier Mascherano brought down Antonio Valencia in the area leaving referee Howard Webb no choice but to award the penalty.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Wayne Rooney saw his spot kick saved by Pepe Reina but the ball fell kindly back to the England striker who made no mistake at the second time of asking to score his 33rd goal of the season. On the hour mark Ji-Sung Park headed bravely past Reina from Darren Fletcher’s cross to win the game for United.

Benitez conceded that Liverpool are no longer favourites for the fourth Champions League spot place vowed to keep battling.

It will be difficult, but still we have to fight. There are a lot of points to play for so we have to keep going and see what happens in the next game. It depends on the other teams too. We have to win the first one, see what the position is in the table and think about the next one. We have to take one game at a time,” he said after the game.

Since there are four teams competing for fourth place I don’t think Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City will drop enough points to let Liverpool catch up, especially since they haven’t won away in the league this year.

So there’s a massive possibility Liverpool will be in the Europa League next season, if this happens I still think they’ll keep the services of Steven Gerrard and Torres, but surely this means Benitez will finally see the end of his mixed reign as manager.

By James Cox

James Cox is a contributor in Sport Journalism at University College Falmouth in England.