at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Liverpool, United Kingdom – Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva successfully came through his comeback match in the 1-0 win over Southampton at the weekend and feels the team's return to form can help their Champions League push.
The 25-year-old supplied Liverpool with defensive backbone in the win to move the club to within seven points of third-placed Chelsea.
“It shows the Premier League is very tight at the moment,” said the Brazil international, who returned for Saturday's victory after three months out with a thigh strain - coming just four matches into his comeback from knee surgery a year ago.
“The gap to third place is not too bad. If we had had a few more wins we would be closer but we can't change that.
“We have a lot of games now and if we can get three or four wins in a row I think we will be very close to the top four.
“If we can turn draws into wins it will be even better but we have to keep believing as there are a lot of positive things at the moment.”
Midfield teammate Joe Allen was just one of many onlookers to welcome back the gifted international.
“You're always going to miss quality players like Lucas and it's great to have him back in the side,” said the Wales international.
Having already played all of the Premier League's top seven, Brendan Rodgers' side have a run of six matches of which they will be expected to win the majority.
“The manager said to us that the decision-making in the final third could be better and as soon as we make the right decisions we will start to score more goals,” continued Lucas.
“It's a new process with a new manager and a new style of game.
“At the end of May I think we will have more positives than negatives to take.
The difference Lucas made to the team dynamic did not go unnoticed by Rodgers.
“I thought he was terrific. He gives us great stability when we haven't got the ball, he intercepts, gets the ball back quickly and can read the game,” he said.
“Him coming in allows the two other more advanced players to play in that central corridor and run higher up the pitch and get in the box.
Rodgers described the weekend performance as “sensational” and believes the plans he instigated on his arrival in the summer are finally starting to bear fruit.
“It is going to take time but these are the ideas we are trying to put into the team in terms of patience,” he added.
“It has all taken time but I can see great improvements.” – Sapa-AFP