Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard feels the point earned in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Aston Villa could prove crucial come the end of the Premier League season.
Gerrard converted a contentious penalty, won by Luis Suarez, early in the second period to secure a draw after Daniel Sturridge's goal in first-half stoppage time had got the Reds back in the game.
After nine wins and only one defeat at home, Brendan Rodgers' side had found themselves trailing to goals from Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke inside 36 minutes, and England skipper Gerrard acknowledged the visitors did not deserve to leave empty-handed.
“Before the game we'd have seen it as two points dropped, but the way Aston Villa played today I think they deserved a point,” the 33-year-old said on Sky Sports. “We were nowhere near good enough first half. We improved a lot after the break and showed good character to get back in it. I think a draw was a fair result.”
Gerrard, who started the game tasked with holding the midfield alongside Jordan Henderson before moving further forward in the second half, added: “It [the first half] wasn't one of my better 45 minutes -- I openly admit that.”
He continued: “They murdered us on the counter-attack. We expected them to be good on the counter-attack, but they were better than we thought today. Credit to them.
“We did well to keep it down to two. Then we changed our formation and I think we got control at half-time and were the better team.”
The result left Liverpool fourth in the table and, asked whether he would take that come May, he replied: “Yeah, of course. That [Champions League qualification] was our main target at the start of the season. We've almost spoilt the supporters at home, so they'll probably see this as a disappointing result, but this could be an important point for us at the end of the season.”
Villa boss Paul Lambert felt the spot-kick awarded by referee Jon Moss was harsh, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan and his team-mates protesting there had barely been any contact with Suarez.
“I think Guzan's pulled his arms away,” Lambert said on Sky Sports. “That could be a biased view, but I don't think it is. I think Jon's in a good position to see it. I'm sure everyone will have a different opinion. You're up against the Kop end and it can be an intimidating place. Jon's got a hard decision to make, but I don't think it was [a penalty].”
Rodgers agreed with Gerrard's view that the slow start had cost his side.
“First half, we weren't at our best,” the Northern Irishman said. “You've got to give credit to Villa for that. They were dynamic and we couldn't get any sort of control in the game. They went 2-0 up and we were disappointed with the goals.
“Probably from our first period of possession of the ball we ended up getting the goal, and that was important for us. Second half, we had much more intensity and ended up getting the penalty and we could maybe have gone on to win the game.
“Ideally, we want to win the home games and we've been on a great run here at home. But when you don't win, it's important not to lose the game.”