Liverpool vs Ludogorets: Jordan Henderson says Liverpool 'thought it would be difficult' last night

The Bulgarian minnows provided a stern test at Anfield

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The Independent Online

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson admits the Champions League will be a learning curve for most of the players this season but he is confident they will adapt quickly.

The Reds laboured to a 2-1 win over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets as they ended a five-year absence from Europe's elite competition at Anfield.

Only captain Steven Gerrard survived from the team which played in Liverpool's last match back in December 2009 with nine players making their European debuts for the club and five playing in the Champions League for the first time.

Henderson, one of those making his competition debut, accepts there is some adjustment to be made but he feels they will soon click into gear.

"We thought it would be difficult as there are no easy games in the Champions League," said Liverpool's newly-installed vice-captain.

"It wasn't easy at all and they made it difficult. We will learn a lot from it but the most important thing was three points.

"It (Champions League) is a little bit different. I thought the crowd were incredible and the atmosphere was brilliant but you just have to adapt as best you can.

"You just have to play your own game and we did that at times but we can still be better. Everybody is looking forward to the next game now and we've got to keep improving."

 

Striker Mario Balotelli scored his first goal since a £16million summer move from AC Milan and Henderson believes it will kick-start the Italy international's career.

"It will be really important for him and the club as well because he is off the mark now and I think that will give him the confidence to go and get a lot more," he added.

"He worked his socks off and he got his just rewards.

"It is always important to get off the mark so it is nice it has come for him in the Champions League and hopefully he can get another one at the weekend against West Ham."

Manager Brendan Rodgers' decision this week to make Henderson Gerrard's deputy when it comes to wearing the armband shows how far the 24-year-old has progressed in the last two years.

The England midfielder is looking to learn from his captain and is relishing the additional burden.

"It means everything really. It's a great honour to be given the extra responsibility by the gaffer," he said. "He said not to change anything, to keep doing what I've been doing.

"He feels that I've been doing well and leading the group well at times.

"Hopefully I can continue to do that and it will not change me in any way.

"All I can do is look to support Stevie wherever I can, because he has not only been one of the best leaders for Liverpool and England but in the game itself.

"Like I always have, I'll look to learn from him as best I can. There's no better man than him to do that."

PA

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