Premier League • England

Benitez turns focus to Liverpool spending after denying Everton relegation claim

Rafa Benitez bellowing from the Everton touchline

Rafa Benitez bemoaned the number of mistakes Everton made in their 4-1 loss to Liverpool, but insisted he has no concerns about a potential relegation battle.

Benitez will find himself under even more scrutiny after losing the Merseyside derby to his former club. His past association with Liverpool meant he was a divisive choice as the new Everton boss this summer. Now, after going eight games without a win, he is doing little to win over his doubters.

Everton were outclassed by their neighbours on Wednesday night. Mohamed Salah scored twice for Liverpool in between goals from Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota. Demarai Gray scored a consolation goal for the hosts in the middle.

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There were murmurs of discontent among the Goodison Park crowd and ironic chants from the away end. All is not well within the blue half of Merseyside and Benitez knows it – but he thinks losing to Liverpool was understandable.

He told Amazon Prime: “I think anyone who could see the game we made too many mistakes and when you do that against a top side you pay for it.

“The fans at the beginning were pushing and after we scored the atmosphere was really good. Then the second half we started on top but then another mistake changed the game.

“We are talking about key players missing and maybe these key players are very important for the rest of the group to play at the level they can play.

“It is always bad to lose but when you lose to a team that has spent so much money and have so many good players sometimes it is because you make a mistake and the other team is quite good.”

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Everton are now in 14th place in the table, five points above the relegation zone.

But their boss is not worried about being dragged into a battle to avoid dropping to the Championship next season.

Asked if he had concerns about fighting for survival, he replied: “No. I still have confidence the team will do well.

“We need to bring players back and we will be as strong as we were at the beginning.

“We need to learn we cannot make these types of mistakes.”

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