Sunday 11 December 2016

Lallana gem cancelled out by sloppy defending

Bordeaux 1 Liverpool 1

Chris Bascombe

Published 18/09/2015 | 02:30

Adam Lallana celebrates his goal with Jordan Rossiter
Adam Lallana celebrates his goal with Jordan Rossiter

In normal circumstances a point on the road in Europe is deemed a positive result.

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers understandably claimed the opening to the Europa league campaign in Bordeaux as such, despite a lament as how his side conceded a sloppy equaliser with ten minutes left.

Adam Lallana's opening goal - beautifully crafted and finished midway through the second half - deserved to be the winner.

The trouble for Rodgers is these are uncertain times at Anfield and, for all the signs of improvement he embraced, there is so much damage to be repaired he is hunting for context as much as points.

Take away what's gone on recently and you could perceive this as a tentative step in the right direction.

Rodgers opted for a combination of youth and experience in France, his side packed with those who could have slotted into the U-21 League.

Jordan Rossiter and 18-year-old Pedro Chirivella spent most of the game in midfield.

"I am so proud of the youngsters," said Rodgers. "I will always give youngsters a chance - do you let them out on loan or put them under that pressure. Jordan and Pedro did better as the game went on."

Inevitably, their inexperience still showed. Rossiter had to be withdrawn with cramp just before the equaliser and it is a credit to the young Scouser he was missed in the latter stages.

Then, Joe Gomez's hesitation enabled substitute Jussie to pounce on 80 minutes and a much-craved victory was turned into a frustrating point.

Gomez continues to show quality but mistakes will shadow every young defender.

For all the talk of the senior players left on Merseyside, Rodgers still selected nearly £90m worth of signings. Lallana and Mamadou Sakho - captain for the night - cost virtually half that between them.

Campaign

Sakho's re-introduction has been the subject of a campaign from a section of Liverpool's support.

At the final whistle it was his name chanted by the away fans. They like his attitude, distinctiveness and the fact he is not called Lovren or Skrtel.

He was one of three centre-halves as the system was tweaked again, although Kolo Toure would leave early after taking an accidental punch in the thigh from Simon Mignolet.

If popularity counts for anything, Sakho has forced himself into the starting line-up at the weekend.

"Sakho was outstanding," said Rodgers. "He knows he's had to be patient but his attitude has been first-class. He has trained very well, kept very professional and he got his rewards so he comes into the reckoning."

For all the plaudits for the defenders, Bordeaux created numerous opportunities but their finishing was dire. Diego Rolan and Wahbi Khazri were most culpable before half-time, trying to be too clever with only Liverpool's Belgian 'keeper to beat. Enzo Crivelli also failed to convert from six yards two minutes before Lallana's opening goal.

Liverpool were trying to get in touch with their creative side. Divock Origi ran around a bit up front and had much more help in the second half.

Naturally, Philippe Coutinho promised most and was cursing the woodwork on the stroke of half-time.

Lallana made no mistake on 65 minutes with a brilliant individual goal, tricking Pablo before picking his spot.

Rodgers does not have the momentum shift he needs yet, but he left France with only mild bruising due to the late leveller. After the battering he feels he has been taking after the last two games, that represents progress.

Telegraph.co.uk

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