Jordan Henderson aims to build on long-awaited goal
LIVERPOOL midfielder Jordan Henderson admits his lack of goals had been preying on his mind but hopes the confidence gained from his crucial Europa League winner will be reflected in future performances.
The 22-year-old struck midway through the second half against 10-man Udinese when he drove a pass from Suso under the body of goalkeeper Daniele Padelli.
With rivals Young Boys beating Anzhi that strike was the difference between Liverpool going through to the last 32 and getting knocked out.
And after a difficult few months on the fringes of the team Henderson believes only his third goal in 65 appearances since his £16m move from Sunderland is just the tonic he needed.
"It is always nice to get goals and it was a good moment for me to score," he said.
"I have missed a few good chances in games so it was nice to put one away and hopefully I can keep scoring from now on.
"I have always tried to improve my goalscoring. Even when I've been getting good chances of late I've not put them away so I started to think I need to score and I've managed to do that so I'm happy.
"I think if you score goals then it does give you more confidence.
"You have to keep working hard, keep doing the things you have been doing and it will pay off in the end.
"It is always nice, no matter what type of goal or when it is, to score goals personally and for the team.
"I think everyone is delighted with the performance and the result and for me, personally, I am delighted with the goal."
Progression to the last 32 could have been snatched away with the final kick of the game, however, as veteran forward Daniel di Natale fired over the crossbar.
That would have been harsh on a Liverpool side who, despite manager Brendan Rodgers' decision to field weakened teams throughout the competition, have grown over the months.
It could hardly be called a classic European away display as Udinese, who had Giovanni Pasquale sent off for a second bookable offence with 11 minutes to go, had too many chances but it was enough to guarantee involvement after Christmas.
"I think overall we are pleased with the performance," added Henderson.
"We went into the game knowing we had to win to go through and that is what we managed to do and everyone is pleased with the outcome.
"We managed the game well and towards the second half we kept the ball quite well and we are delighted with the win.
"I think we deserved to win the game and go through. They had one or two chances and Di Natale had a good one at the end but fortunately for us it went over the crossbar.
"I think we are going from strength to strength every week and we are improving.
"It is important for Liverpool to be involved in the knockout stages of European competition.
"When February comes (and the competition restarts) we will have improved a hell of a lot and we can kick on from there but our main focus now is Sunday against West Ham.
"Hopefully the win will give everyone confidence going into that game."
Liverpool's pre-match preparations for the Hammers clash were disrupted slightly when they were unexpectedly forced to stay overnight in Italy.
The team were scheduled to fly back to Liverpool last night but a problem with their plane meant they were unable to take off and they had to spend the night in a hotel.
Coaching staff tried as best they could to keep the post-match routine to which the players were accustomed and Press Association Sport understands they undertook a pool recovery session this morning ahead of their return flight which is expected to see them arrive back mid-afternoon.
The team are due to travel to London tomorrow.