03 May Big win for the Reds
Match-winner Emre Can believes Liverpool’s victory over Watford on Monday night was a “big, big step” to achieving their goal of returning to the Champions League.
The Germany international scored a memorable overhead kick in first-half stoppage-time as the Reds recorded a 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road to put their top-four fate in their own hands.
It was a largely forgettable contest with Can’s effort a rare moment of inspiration, although Watford could have stolen a point at the end when Sebastian Prodl slammed a volley against the crossbar.
The win for Jurgen Klopp’s side was made sweeter by the fact their rivals for a place in the Premier League’s top four dropped points over the weekend.
Manchester City and Manchester United were held by teams fighting it out at the bottom of the table while Arsenal were beaten by title-chasing Tottenham in Sunday’s north London derby.
That left the door open for Liverpool, who bounced back from defeat at home to Crystal Palace to tighten their grip on third place.
Now Can has backed the five-time European Cup winners to return to the Champions League for next season.
He told liverpoolfc.com: “It was a very, very big step.
“I think if we perform in the last three games how we can perform then we will win games and we will play in the Champions League.
“Our target is to play in the Champions League because with the quality of players that we have here and with a club like Liverpool, your target has to be to play in the Champions League. We will give our best.
“Of course, we knew before the game what happened [on Sunday], with the other results, and it was a big, big step for us.”
Can also admitted he may never score another goal like the one which secured victory at Watford, as he leapt acrobatically to volley home Lucas’ pinpoint pass.
“I didn’t think too much, to be honest,” he added.
“The ball came, a great ball from Lucas, and I just did it and I was happy the ball went in. I couldn’t do anything else there, because the ball was a little bit behind and I couldn’t head it.
“I didn’t think too much and then I scored and I think I will never score a goal like that again. It was a special goal but I’m very happy that we got the three points.”
Watford remain on 40 points as a result of the defeat but are all-but safe as they have an eight-point buffer on Swansea in 18th place.
The Hornets finish the season with a trio of away trips to face Leicester, Everton and Chelsea before ending the season at home to Manchester City.
Despite that difficult run-in, defender Adrian Mariappa is keen to improve on the points tally and will be looking to take lessons from the Liverpool game into the remaining weeks.
“it is a game of fine margins,” he said.
“When you are playing against such good opposition they punish you for mistakes.
“The quality of the goal is just one of those things. We are very disappointed. We will definitely look at it, there is always something you can do as a defender.
“It is one of those things and see what we can learn from it going forward. Conceding before half-time is not great but I thought the lads dealt with it well.
“At the end I thought we were pushing them…we were unlucky not to come away with a draw. Sometimes it hits the bar and drops down to someone else.
“We will have to lick our wounds and try and get a result on Saturday against Leicester. We are trying to get as many points as we can.”