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Friday, November 23, 2012
Rodgers rues Liverpool's defensive lapses

ESPN staff

Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool's defensive frailties were once again exposed as the Reds twice conceded the lead against Young Boys on Thursday.

• Whalley: Cole can't mask problems

Liverpool fought out a 2-2 draw in the Europa League clash at Anfield, missing the opportunity to qualify for the knockout stages.

They now require a result against Udinese on the final matchday, with Anzhi Makachkala's trip to Young Boys also a determining factor in their ability to progress.

The Reds surrendered the lead on two occasions after Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Cole both had goals cancelled out.

Rodgers highlighted Liverpool's lapse in concentration which allowed Young Boys a late equaliser as something they must rectify when they travel to Italy.

"The players gave everything. The team out there was very committed against a good side," he said. "[But] you lead twice in the game, and miss a hatful of chances as well, and then to concede the goal like we did at the end was very disappointing.

"2-1 up with three or four minutes to go, you've got to control the game better. You've got to show better game management. That was the only disappointment.

"I'm not telling you anything I haven't told the players. We get the chance to shoot at one end and then in the 87th minute we're walking back.

"Oussama [Assaidi] has a go at trying to get the ball but then they work their way through to the edge of the box unchallenged. It's a disappointing goal when you analyse it.

"That's about management of the game at that stage. You're winning the game, you don't need to commit the bodies forward and leave yourself isolated. That's something we'll improve on.

"It's simple enough, we've got to get a good result and match the result of Young Boys. Ideally we'd have qualified tonight but we haven't so it has to go to the last game and we have to control our affairs then."

Rodgers was forced to withdraw Andre Wisdom after just 31 minutes, although the Reds boss believes he will be fit to face Swansea on Sunday.

"It was a precaution really, he had a little knock in his knee. Hopefully he'll be fine but it meant we had to adapt," Rodgers said. "Jordan [Henderson] stepped in and did a terrific job there.

"He's filled in in a number of positions for me since I've been here and he gave it everything in that position."

Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez came off the bench for Liverpool, while Joe Allen was an unused substitute. Despite Gerrard playing a majority of the game after Wisdom's injury, Rodgers defended his decision to make a number of changes to the line-up.

"We've got four games in 10 days and it was trying to make sure we were as fresh as we could possible be," he said. "We're trying to navigate our way through this tournament with a thin squad.

"I don't think it was anything to do with the strength of the team tonight. We had good strength, we showed good qualities in the game and we were in front in the game."

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