Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool still have work to do, says Hodgson

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admitted his side now face a testing trip to Turkey next week after a gaining a slender advantage over Trabzonspor tonight.

Ryan Babel scored the only goal as the Reds beat the Turkish Cup winners 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League play-off at Anfield.

Victory would have been much more comfortable had Joe Cole converted a second-half penalty and debutant Christian Poulsen not had a goal disallowed.

"I think with our second-half performance we can probably count ourselves unlucky," said Hodgson, who made seven changes and gave captain Steven Gerrard a night off.

"We probably did deserve the extra goal which would have made the trip to Turkey more comfortable. Now it won't be comfortable at all.

"If you miss a penalty you can't blame anybody but yourselves but I thought we were unlucky with the disallowed goal.

"Overall I am very pleased with the result and performance, especially second half, but whether it will be good enough to take to Trabzonspor, only time will tell."

Cole's miss continued a miserable week for the former Chelsea midfielder, who was sent off against Arsenal on Sunday and found guilty of speeding yesterday.

He now begins a three-match domestic suspension starting with Monday's Barclays Premier League trip to Manchester City.

Yet Cole did set up Babel's goal and was involved in the build-up to the close-range Poulsen strike which was disallowed.

It was unclear at the time whether it had been ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Onur Kivrak by Cole or for offside, but Hodgson felt it was the former.

"TV replays showed there was no real contact between Joe Cole and the goalkeeper," he said.

"That's one of the things that happens these days. He was clever enough I think to cover up his error by pretending to be fouled and the referee unfortunately wasn't in a position to see through the masquerade."

Babel's goal came at the end of a drab first half in which both sides struggled to create meaningful opportunities.

The second period was played at a much higher tempo with Fernando Torres introduced off the bench in place of Babel.

Hodgson added: "I don't think our first-half performance was as good as it needed to be.

"I don't think we had caused enough problems for their defence to deserve to go in front 1-0.

"We played with much more intensity in the second half. If there had been a half where we deserved a goal it would have been the second.

"Overall it was still a good performance to rest seven players and send players out there who don't play so often for the first team, it was very good."

Trabzonspor coach Senol Gunes felt his side made life difficult for the hosts but was disappointed not to have conceded a goal ahead of the second leg.

Gunes, who guided Turkey to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, said: "It was raining and it was difficult but we controlled the game and were really positive in the first half.

"But in the first 10 minutes of the second half we lost control and Liverpool put us under too much pressure.

"They won 1-0 and have control of the tie.

"I am not happy because our aim was to score here. Umut Bulut had two chances to score but could not take either of them.

"Losing 1-0 was not a good result for us."

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