Hodgson admits 'tired' Liverpool flattered by point at Wigan

Wigan Athletic 1 Liverpool 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

If a run of good results had suggested Liverpool's season had taken a turn for the better, then they received a reality check here. In fact, they had received more of a jolt after a disjointed second-half performance saw them surrender a winning position to return home with a point.

How good they were in their fine win over Chelsea on Sunday, they were as bad here. It had looked so promising once Fernando Torres had given Liverpool an early lead and it appeared a matter of time before they would add to their advantage. It never materialised.

Instead the visitors were left holding on and were fortunate to escape with a draw, following Hugo Rodallega's equaliser for Wigan who would have been full value for a win to lift themselves out of the bottom three.

Roy Hodgson put his side's lacklustre performance down to their amount of games, but this just underlined how Liverpool are still someway off being the finished article. "We didn't deserve to win the game," he admitted."I thought we looked tired. I don't think our passing was anywhere near as good as we expect it to be.

"We made a bright start and a bright finish but, for a long period in between, I don't think we were anywhere near where what I'd expect us to be.

"It would have been harsh on Wigan if we would have won it. And they can even feel the result flatters us not them. I would put it down to Napoli, Blackburn, Bolton and Chelsea with a small squad of players.

"We've got five players injured and ended the game with Jonjo Shelvey, Nathan Ecclestone and Martin Kelly," Hodgson added. "That's what we have and that's what we are using and hopefully we'll get a few players back soon."

Liverpool started where they ended against the champions on Sunday – dominant, efficient and playing with an air of confidence that had been lacking for most of the season. They did not have to wait too long to break the deadlock via Torres. The Spanish striker, with his fourth goal in as many games, fired home Steven Gerrard's pass after seven minutes.

It was Gerrard though who, once again, was at the heart of everything of the visitors. He started and finished a move that should have resulted in a second goal for Liverpool later in the half.

However, their control soon faded and after a couple of scares, they were punished when Ronnie Stam's cross was only pushed out by goalkeeper Pepe Reina to Rodallega to score in the 52nd minute. Suddenly this was the Liverpool team of a few weeks ago. Sloppy in possession, coupled with elementary mistakes, it was typical of their struggles this season. Even Torres was catching it, as the striker strangely opted to go for goal from an acute angle with Gerrard and team-mates in support.

Despite Wigan looking more likely to score, it was Gerrard who could have sealed victory, against the run of play, when his shot bounced back off the crossbar in the 82nd minute.

"I've given up trying to temper expectations," Hodgson said. "I deal with every game as it comes and try and win it. Sometimes we are good enough to, other times we are not. We weren't good enough here."

While Hodgson was relieved to escape with a draw, it said something of Wigan's performance that they were frustrated at sharing the spoils. "We could have felt sorry for ourselves at the start and that's why I'm proud of my players," admitted manager Roberto Martinez. "We are disappointed and frustrated in the dressing room, that's how far we have come.

"Credit to Liverpool for their start, but that was self-inflicted on our part. We were sloppy and allowed Steven Gerrard to make a clinical pass. You're not going to see him have three seconds on the ball like that again all season.

"But we were the better side for long periods and that pleased me a lot. It's disappointing. It's happened too many times now. Apart from Fulham, we didn't deserve anything. But against Blackburn, Bolton and Newcastle, we were the better side. Once again we were here."

Wigan (4-2-3-1): Al Habsi, Stam, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Thomas, Diame, Cleverley, Gomez (Moses, 68), N'Zogbia, Rodallega (Di Santo, 86). Substitutes not used Kirkland, Watson, Boselli, Steven Caldwell, McArthur.

Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky, Meireles (Shelvey, 46), Gerrard, Lucas, Rodriguez (Eccleston, 80), Kuyt (Poulsen, 73), Torres. Substitutes not used Hansen, Jovanovic, Ngog, Spearing.

Referee P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Attendance 16,754.

Man of the Match Gerrard.

Match Rating 6/10.