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Liverpool FC may have lost their status as English Premier League leaders at the weekend, but Dirk Kuyt believes their UEFA Champions League Group D meeting with Club Atlético de Madrid at Anfield on Tuesday offers an ideal opportunity to bounce back.
Kuyt gave Liverpool a third-minute lead at Tottenham Hotspur FC on Saturday, yet the London side hit back in added time to win 2-1 and inflict the Reds' first defeat of the campaign. The result meant Liverpool slipped to second place, behind Chelsea FC on goal difference. "I think we played really well [against Tottenham]. We were disappointed, but we have had a good season so far, I guess," said Kuyt, 28. "Of course everyone is talking about the pressure if you lose a game, but that's football. The most important thing is to win our own games and not look at the table too much at the moment."
Despite being moved out to the right wing at Liverpool after making his name as a striker with Feyenoord, Kuyt is still the club's top goalscorer this season, having found the net six times in all competitions. However, the Dutch international admits it was a lack of clinical finishing that cost his team three points against Tottenham. "I think everybody knew after Saturday what the problem was ... we missed too many chances," he said. "Sometimes this happens in football. We have to make sure we will be ready for the game tomorrow and just win the other games."
A Liverpool victory against the Spanish Liga side could secure their progress to the knockout rounds if the other Group D result goes their way, and Kuyt says it is vital they learn from their last encounter with Atlético, a 1-1 draw in Madrid a fortnight ago. "I think we played a really good first half over there," he added. "It was a pity we gave away a goal in the last ten minutes. We have to learn from that. If we concede in the last ten minutes, it must not be necessary, because we have a good team and we defend really well. That's really important, because we want to be into the next stage of the Champions League and we want to be first in the group."
Kuyt's first campaign on Merseyside coincided with the last of Luis García, who makes his Anfield return with Atlético. The 30-year-old was an integral part of the Reds' UEFA Champions League-winning side of 2004/05 before moving back to Spain in July 2007. "It's a special game for any player to have the opportunity to play here, at this great stadium with the fantastic atmosphere, but it's extra special for me because I spent some very happy years here and I enjoyed my football, so it's a nice occasion," said the attacking midfielder. "I've had lots of good-luck messages from people in the city, and not just Liverpool fans. It's great to be able to come back and see these people again. I will always have a special place in my heart for the time I spent here."
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