Liverpool vs. Zenit  3 - 1

Article

Rodgers proud despite Liverpool exit

22 February 2013 00:37

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was proud of his team after their 3-1 win over Zenit, despite seeing them eliminated from the Europa League.

The Reds went into the second leg of the last-32 clash 2-0 down on aggregate after defeat in Russia and needed four goals on Thursday to progress after Hulk scored early on at Anfield.

Two Luis Suarez free kicks and Joe Allen's close-range strike gave Liverpool hope but they ultimately fell short on the away goals rule - a fact that did not detract from Rodgers' assessment of his players' performance.

"I'm very proud of the club and the players tonight," he told reporters.

"To come back from a three-goal deficit and put in that effort and quality and character into the game was just an absolutely phenomenal show.

"It was a fantastic night but unfortunately we probably lost the tie over there (in Russia). At this level to have to score that many goals and for us to nearly do it, it gives me great pride."

The Northern Irishman lamented referee's failure to award the hosts a penalty after Tomas Hubocan appeared to handle in the area in the second half.

"It's probably too soon after the game but it certainly was a penalty, I think everybody could see that," he said.

"We had momentum throughout the game and it looked a clear penalty, it wasn't one that there was any debate on - especially when you've got a fourth official, or fifth official standing behind the goal and looking clear at it."

Rodgers refused, however, to blame Jamie Carragher for his side's exit, after the veteran defender's weak back-pass allowed Hulk to score the vital away goal.

"There's no blame. It's probably the first mistake I've seen him make since I've been at the football club and that includes every day in training," he said.

Article

Lucas aiming to bring down Zenit

21 February 2013 16:21

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva hopes he will be happier than his compatriot Hulk after Thursday night's Europa League clash with Zenit.

The Reds suffered a 2-0 defeat in Russia in the first leg of the last-32 tie, with second-half goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak punishing their lacklustre display.

Lucas highlighted the former Porto forward as a key man for the visitors and hopes the Reds can keep him quiet.

"We are close, especially as we had the chance to play a few times in the national team together," the 26-year-old said.

"Hulk scored a good goal against us and he's an important player for Zenit. After the game we'll have a friendly chat and hopefully I'll be happier than him."

The Premier League outfit have their work cut out if they are to progress to the next stage but, with the return leg at Anfield, Lucas is confident his team-mates can pull off a memorable comeback.

He added: "We know we need to score goals but we also have to play with a defensive mentality because to concede a goal will make it even harder for us.

"We need to try to find the right balance. Hopefully it will be another good night to remember. We really believe that we can get through to the next stage.

"The Europa League is a competition that we always wanted to do well in. We know about the special European nights at Anfield that the crowd give us. They will definitely be our 12th player."

One of the players that Brendan Rodgers will be relying on is Steven Gerrard, a player Lucas insists can still 'change games'.

"I've been playing with Stevie for six years already and every week we can see he still has the hunger to win games and be the special player that he has always been for the club," he said.

"He's playing in a different position, a deeper role than he was used to, but he's still able to change games.

"I'm just very happy that we have him on the team. His leadership always makes our lives easier."

Article

Skrtel in doubt to face Zenit

20 February 2013 16:37

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says Martin Skrtel is 'highly unlikely' to feature in the club's Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg.

The Slovakia international was an unused substitute in Liverpool's 5-0 win over Swansea in the Premier League on Sunday.

And a knee injury looks set to rule him out of the second-leg tie against the Russian champions on Thursday.

"Skrtel is being assessed," Rodgers said. "I think he'll struggle with his knee, he had a knock on it and he tried to train and made it worse. It's highly unlikely he'll play."

The injury to Skrtel means Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger are expected to continue in the centre of defence against Zenit.

Elsewhere, injury-plagued striker Fabio Borini is set to miss up to two months of the season after sustaining a dislocated shoulder in Sunday's win against Swansea.

"By the weekend, he'll look to have an operation and you're then looking at six to eight weeks," Rodgers said.

"It's been a difficult season for Fabio, coming into such a big club, getting injured early on, coming back and then working hard for his moment and doing his shoulder.

"It's been difficult for him but he's a tough-minded young boy and he'll get through the op well and we'll see how he recovers."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
8 17 +3 25
9 17 -5 23
10 17 -3 22
11 17 +0 21
12 17 -10 20

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 17 +31 41
2 17 +22 34
3 16 +17 32
4 17 +10 31
5 17 +8 30