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Start the key - Rafa

Rafa van der Vaart pinpointed our positive start as crucial to Sunday's victory against Liverpool.

Rafa van der Vaart pinpointed our positive start as crucial to Sunday's victory against Liverpool.

The Dutchman stunned the Anfield crowd with a sweet looping volley at the Kop end to open the scoring in the ninth minute.

We continued to dictate the play and it took until the 39th minute for Liverpool to seriously threaten when Andy Carroll headed over from close range.

We started the second half brightly as well and it was no real surprise when Luka Modric slotted home from the penalty spot to make it 2-0 in the 56th minute after John Flanagan had brought down Steven Pienaar.

Liverpool's best efforts after that saw Jonjo Shelvey shoot just wide from distance and Luis Suarez fire over while Pienaar curled inches wide late on.

"We played our football and I thought we were the better team, especially in the first half-hour when we played really well." said Rafa at Anfield.

"We didn’t wait, we played our game from the start. We know we can play well and when you score an early goal, you know you can go on to win.

"It’s a special win, but we know we can do it. We also won at Arsenal this season, we did well against United, Chelsea, City. We don’t have to be afraid of anyone."


The victory lifted us above Liverpool and back into fifth in the Premier League.

We're a point ahead of the Reds going into the final weekend of the campaign. All matches kick-off at 4pm on Sunday and we face Birmingham at the Lane while Liverpool travel to Villa.

Victory over the Blues and we'll qualify for the Europa League next season.

"Of course we’re all disappointed because we’re not in the Champions League next season, but now we can keep this fifth position," added Rafa. "We've had a lot of draws recently, so this win also showed a good mentality."