Di Natale's tricks for Udinese make Liverpool's Europa League route tricky

Liverpool 2 Udinese 3


For the first time since he came to manage Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers looked angry. He might have talked about a comeback inspired by Luis Suarez, who stretched every sinew to force an equaliser. He could have remarked how Antonio di Natale had been applauded off from every corner of Anfield after a performance of rare brilliance that swung the night Udinese's way. He might even have noted how Stewart Downing had met the challenge he had laid down to add some fight to his talent.

Instead, he said he was tired of having to score two or three goals to win a game. He was tired of losing contests Liverpool should, by rights, be winning. He was tired of defending he described as "lazy" and "sloppy".

"It's quite straightforward. We were very, very good in the first half and the problem we had in the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half had been with us since the start of the season.

"We were much the better side and we lost, I thought we had moved on from that," said Rodgers, who has still only won a single game at Anfield – and that against Gomel, the nonentities from Belarus.

"We had total control but we were so loose in the second half it was frightening. Yes, we recovered in the last 20 minutes but it was too late. We were too lazy in our play, too sloppy. There is no other way to describe it. We didn't do the dirty bits. You can't keep on having to score two or three goals to win games."

His players proved only that the Europa League matters to them – not least Suarez, who saw his shot blocked on the line by his own player, Jonjo Shelvey and then curled in a free-kick beneath the Kop. It was, like Shelvey's own header from Downing's superlative cross that opened the scoring, not nearly enough.

If Liverpool are to qualify from the group, they will need at least one win from the monied mercenaries of Anzhi Makhachkala. Anzhi's most precious signing, Samuel Eto'o, has won three European Cups but he will need to impress here to match the performance of Di Natale, a man who has won nothing except the undying affection of those who came from Italy's north east, carrying a banner with his face upon it that they held up like an icon. His battle with Jamie Carragher was a contest between two wonderful footballers in the twilight of their respective careers.


Get Adobe Flash player


Di Natale had walked around Anfield before training on Wednesday night on the grounds that, approaching 35, he might not appear here again. Last night, he left some memories of his own.

The first was a free-kick that was met on the run by Medhi Benatia and brilliantly saved at full stretch by Pepe Reina on a night he equalled Ray Clemence's record of 80 European games by a Liverpool keeper. Reina's form has been questionable this season but that save was not.

Then, with the second half 30 seconds old, Di Natale took a square ball from the newly-introduced substitute, Andrea Lazzari, fractionally before Sebastian Coates and drove it into the net in front of his own supporters.

In the first half, Coates had narrowly avoided scoring Liverpool's opener with a muscular header from Downing's corner. Later, he was to score at the Anfield Road End, although this time it was past his own keeper as he went to deflect Lazzari's free-kick.

Then, Giovanni Pasquale sent a shot screeching into the corner of Reina's net after Di Natale had juggled the ball outrageously in the Liverpool area, another memory that lingered, although the one that would have stuck with Rodgers was how Antonio di Natale, whose name translates as "Tony Christmas", was allowed so many gifts.

Man of the match Di Natale.

Match rating 8/10.

Referee S Johannesson (Swe).

Attendance 40,092.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London