Belfast Telegraph

More agony for Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool manager has no defence for this frustrating display

By Steven Beacom

More frustration for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers. And the same old problems causing it. Failing to defend properly. When will they ever learn?

The Merseyside outfit concede more set piece goals than a pound shop sells selection boxes at this time of year.

And while the latest didn’t knock them out of the Champions League it did prevent the Reds gaining a much needed victory as Bulgarian side Ludogorets snatched a 2-2 draw in the dying minutes.

It’s been a month now since Liverpool had that winning feeling... beating Swansea in the League Cup.

FOUR losses in a row followed, including the two most abject displays during the reign of Rodgers, away to Newcastle and Crystal Palace.

Liverpool fans demanded a response from the manager and his players in Bulgaria.

Did they get it? To a tiny degree, but still they must improve dramatically, especially at the back, to start winning Premier League matches and to beat Swiss side Basel at Anfield next month, a necessity to reach the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition.

When Georgi Terziev headed home from close range on 88 minutes after a corner had been flicked on at the near post, it was the 13th goal Liverpool have let in from a set piece this season.

THIRTEEN. That’s not unlucky, just rank bad defending and last night the error prone Dejan Lovren wasn’t even on the pitch!

Neither were Adam Lallana and Phillipe Coutinho, dropped after Sunday’s nightmare at Selhurst Park with Rodgers opting for more graft and less craft with Lucas and Jordan Henderson coming into midfield.

Liverpool’s boss was clearly content to win ugly in Sofia and with Rickie Lambert and Henderson scoring first half goals to come from behind to lead, it appeared that would happen until Ludogrets located Liverpool’s weak spot.

Lambert or Mario Balotelli? There’s no debate now. Not only does the Englishman score goals, the boyhood Red genuinely cares.

If encouragement could be taken from the striker, there was more in the shape of Raheem Sterling, who after all those ‘tired’ arguments when he was on England duty, at last woke from his slumber crossing brilliantly for Henderson’s goal and creating havoc with his pace.

Liverpool had fallen behind with just three minutes gone when Simon Mignolet fumbled a long range strike from Marcelinho straight to Dani Abalo who stabbed the ball home.

Shocking goalkeeping, not for the first time, but Rodgers dare not drop him because the alternative, Aussie Brad Jones, is even more scary. Brad Pitt would be better.

Heck, Angelina Jolie would cause less alarm in goal than the man from Down Under.

She’d probably be a lot safer than Mignolet right now as well!

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