Liverpool vs Ludogorets: Steven Gerrard admits Liverpool have 'a lot to learn' after tough Champions League opener

The captain scored a late penalty at Anfield in a 2-1 win

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The Independent Online

Captain Steven Gerrard onceded Liverpool have "a lot to learn" after a battling 2-1 victory over Ludogorets in their first Champions League game for five years.

Mario Balotelli got his first goal for the Reds after 82 minutes of toil but Ludogorets equalised in the last minute of normal time to silence Anfield.

Gerrard, however, netted a penalty in time added on to hand Liverpool all three points despite a shaky start to their Group B campaign.

"Looking at the game as a whole, we did okay. We didn't do better than okay," Gerrard told ITV.

"(We have got) a lot to learn. I thought they caused us quite a few problems on the counter-attack, just like Aston Villa at the weekend, so there's a lot for myself and the lads to learn."

He added: "I think taking maximum points, we go away to Basle now, if we can get another maximum points it puts us in a very good position but the key tonight was always going to be three points before the performance.

"But at Liverpool we always analyse how we've done and to judge that performance is, 'must do better'."

 

Manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for his players but, like Gerrard, was quick to emphasise that he believes there are better things to come.

"I think it was a great night for everyone at the club," he said. "Obviously it's been five years so to get first game back in and get the result was excellent.

"Big congratulations to the players because they showed great character and commitment tonight to get the result."

He added: "I don't think that we're at the level that we were at last year as of yet. I think that that will come. There has been a lot of new players that have come into the club and they're still adapting to it, we're working them. "That's going to take that wee bit of time but until that comes, to show that character and determination to get a result is very important.

"And to do that in the Champions League, this is a competition (where) there are no poor sides, everyone is a good side and to get the win tonight was very important."

Rodgers was also delighted with Balotelli and believes the Italian can score many more goals for the club if he gets himself in the right positions.

"It was wonderful finish," he added.

"We've said to him to be in the box more, I think that was important for him.

"Because he's got great technique, sometimes when the ball is in the wide area he spends time outside of the box but when he's in there with his strength and power, to take the touch. It was a world class finish."

Gerrard was also full of praise for his new team-mate and lauded his resilience and work-rate on a tough night for the five-time winners.

"You've got to give him credit," he said. "He's under the spotlight; he's come, everyone is waiting for that first goal and it never went his way for long periods tonight.

"But the sign of a good goalscorer is be relentless, keep going until the end because it only takes one chance. When you've got his ability you only need one chance and he showed that tonight.

"What was more important than the goal was his work-rate. I think all the supporters, myself and the rest of the lads were waiting to see what he was going to give the team without the ball and I thought he ran his socks off so that's the biggest plus for me."

PA

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