Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers proud of Liverpool's fighting spirit against Real Madrid

By Carl Markham

Liverpool showed they have fight in the squad in a creditable performance against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, according to boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Ulsterman rested several of his star names, including captain Steven Gerrard, vice-captain Jordan Henderson, summer signing Mario Balotelli and winger Raheem Sterling, but the Reds were much more competitive than they had been at Anfield two weeks ago.

They still came away with nothing thanks to Karim Benzema's strike in a 1-0 win for Real, but Rodgers insisted he had done the right thing.

The Carnlough native received criticism prior to kick-off for his selection, but he said afterwards: "I knew what I was doing.

"You've seen how good they (the Liverpool players) were tonight. We're obviously disappointed with the result because the bottom line is we lost.

"But to come to a stadium like this where they're winning threes and fours against teams like Barcelona and to keep the game close right to the very end, showed the quality of our performance.

"We knew we would have to defend well but we also had the courage to play. We're very proud of the team.

"We knew we had a real tough game tonight, but I didn't rest players for Saturday.

"People obviously don't know a lot of the players well," Rodgers continued. "There are a lot of new young players that were adapting into the team and the squad.

"I picked what I thought could maybe - on the back of Saturday's game against Newcastle - get the result for us tonight, and I think the performance we put in showed that."

Liverpool sit third in Group B but will qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Ludogorets and Basel in their remaining two games.

They travel to Ludogorets next on November 26 before hosting Basel on December 9

"There's every chance we can go on to qualify from this group," said Rodgers.

"That's what we looked at. We knew we'd have to beat Ludogorets away and then we were hoping it would come down to the final game against Basel at Anfield.

"That hopefully will be the case. At least it's in our hands, we can control our fate and that's something we'll aim to do."

He continued: "There are so many positives from tonight. We had a couple of half chances and we were always in the game until the last minute.

"We knew it would be a difficult place to come but we showed we've got fight and we're still in the competition.

"But we've got to win the last two games. We know it's going to be tough."

Former Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana, who joined the Reds in the summer transfer window, was one of those to come in to the changed line-up, and he said: "We went out there to prove a point.

"We want to stay in the team for the weekend. We've got another big game against Chelsea at home.

"But the main thing was we wanted to get a result and we're disappointed to go away with nothing after putting in a big collective effort."

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