Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers pride as young guns kick-off Liverpool's Europa League campaign

Bordeaux 1-1 Liverpool

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was both disappointed and encouraged by his side's 1-1 Europa League draw in Bordeaux.

Adam Lallana's fantastic second-half goal was cancelled out by substitute Jussie late on to deny the Reds an opening win.

However, with Rodgers making eight changes it was the young players who impressed - the first-half introduction of debutant Pedro Chirivella brought the average age down to 21.7 - and the manager was full of praise.

"I am disappointed, but I feel encouraged by the performance with so many young players," said Rodgers.

"I was disappointed their striker got too many touches in the box, but if you can't win, especially away from home in Europe, you at least get a point and we're satisfied with that.

"I was so proud of them tonight. I will always give the young players an opportunity if they have the personality. The senior players were outstanding helping the younger players and we will look for more of that in the coming weeks." Chirivella and Jordan Rossiter, both 18, impressed in central midfield and Rodgers noted that.

"As the game wore on they combined with the other players and I thought they acquitted themselves well," he said.

"If you take those two, Jordon Ibe who is 19, Joe Gomez who is 18, there was great encouragement for the young players and supporters."

Lallana was returning from a month out with a thigh injury and despite some rustiness in the first half he took his goal brilliantly.

"It was an outstanding goal. It was his touch and creativity which we have not seen so much of this season. It was a wonderful goal and (substitute) Danny Ings was unfortunate not to score."

Rodgers added: "Sakho was immense at the back. He knows he has had to be patient and his attitude has been first class.

"He has trained very well, kept professional, done his extra work on his fitness and he has got his rewards for that.

"He certainly comes into the reckoning for the weekend (against Norwich)."

Goalscorer Lallana believes Liverpool could take positives from the performance of the youngsters and praised defender Sakho for his display in defence.

He said: "We were disappointed at the end, but it's a positive performance. They scored with five or 10 minutes to go, but before the game possibly we'd have taken a point.

"We had a couple of young lads that played tonight, Pedro came on early doors. I thought him and Jordan were brilliant and showed great maturity for their age.

"Sakho's a top, top player and a top professional as well. He showed what he was made of tonight - great professionalism, great on the ball, he defended well. Bar the goal at the end we defended really solidly."

Son Heung-min scored a quick-fire brace on his home debut as Tottenham came from behind to beat Qarabag in their Europa League opener.

The big-money summer signing was deployed as the lone striker with goalless Harry Kane rested for the visit of the Azerbaijan champions.

His replacement on the night showed why he was signed for a fee in excess of £20million as he scored two predatory goals in the space of three minutes to cancel out Richard Almeida's early penalty for the visitors - with Erik Lamela also in the scoresheet in the 3-1 win.

Belfast Telegraph


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