Aston Villa kept alive their European dream by gaining inspiration from a fear of failure. Prior to their 2-0 victory at home to Middlesbrough, the Villa players said that defeat would rule out a serious European challenge.
But the result, borne of a fine second-half performance, means that the Uefa Cup remains a possibility. Thomas Sorensen, the Villa goalkeeper, refuses to discuss the chances but his conversation is littered with hints that optimism is increasing.
"We talked this week about it being the last chance if we want to stay in touch with the likes of
Middlesbrough and the teams in front of us," Sorensen said. "So we are now only four points behind Middlesbrough who are sixth.
"There is everything to play for and that's what we want all the way to the end of the season. Hopefully we will be in the mix for a European place but there is still a long way to go.
" We've got another important game coming up against Birmingham and we have to prove ourselves even more in two weeks' time.
"It's no secret that consistency is what we need. If we can get on a good run, they are not far ahead of us. "It is not impossible to catch the teams ahead of us. But we need to put in
these kind of performances next week and the week after.
"It is important now to get a win over Birmingham. We just need to put in the performance and if we achieve that then we will get the win as well.
"It is nice to go into the game on the back of the win but we said that before the Everton game after
winning at Portsmouth. It's all in the mind.
"This time we want to prove we are not a team that is easily run over. It is going to be tough but it will be well worth watching.
"Let's not talk too much about Europe. The main thing is that we get some consistency.
"It will take some good performances to get there.
We've got nine games left, plenty of points to play for. It is still a possibility.
"Martin Laursen played well, He has been looking strong in training for the past couple of weeks. I think it was harsh on Ridgewell because he has played well but Martin proved the manager picking him was the right choice."