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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers full of praise after victory over Ludogorets

By Robert Jones

Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for his players after a battling 2-1 victory over Ludogorets in their first Champions League game for five years.

Mario Balotelli got his first goal for the Reds after 82 minutes of toil, but the Bulgarians equalised in the last minute of normal time to silence Anfield.

Steven Gerrard, however, netted a penalty in time added on to hand Liverpool all three points despite a shaky start to their Group B campaign.

"I think it was a great night for everyone at the club," he said.

"Obviously it's been five years so to get first game back in and get the result was excellent.

"Big congratulations to the players because they showed great character and commitment tonight to get the result."

He added: "I don't think that we're at the level that we were at last year as of yet. I think that that will come. A lot of new players have come into the club and they're still adapting to it, we're working them.

"That's going to take that wee bit of time, but until that comes, to show that character and determination to get a result is very important.

"And to do that in the Champions League, this is a competition where there are no poor sides, everyone is a good side and to get the win tonight was very important."

Rodgers was also delighted with Balotelli and believes the Italian can score many more goals for the club if he gets himself in the right positions.

"It was wonderful finish. We've said to him to be in the box more, I think that was important for him," he said.

Gerrard was also full of praise for his new team-mate and lauded his resilience and work-rate on a tough night for the five-time winners.

"You've got to give him credit. He's under the spotlight; he's come, everyone is waiting for that first goal and it never went his way for long periods tonight," he said.

"The sign of a good goalscorer is be relentless, keep going until the end because it only takes one chance. When you've got his ability you only need one chance and he showed that tonight."

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