Rodgers bullish despite defeat
Zenit Petersburg 2 Liverpool 0:Brendan Rodgers claimed Liverpool have “a fighting chance” of reaching the last 16 despite falling to a 2-0 defeat at Zenit St Petersburg on a night when fears of racist abuse from Russian fans proved unfounded.
Two goals in three minutes - from the Brazil striker Hulk and the substitute Sergei Semak - gave the Russian champions a convincing first-leg lead after Liverpool, and Luis Suarez in particular, squandered several chances to change the tie.
Rodgers replaced Raheem Sterling with Lucas Leiva in the 78th minute when two goals down and he admitted the defensive move was made to prevent further damage and to preserve Liverpool’s interest in Europe. “I made the substitution to make sure we stayed in the tie,” the manager said. “There is another game to come and at 2-0 maybe you can retrieve something. But if we remained open and went to 3-0, then it could cost you. We know it is retrievable and we still have a fighting chance.
“I think we have a chance in the second leg and that the next goal will decide it. And what gives us great hope is that we created loads of chances. The next goal is hugely important for us; if we can get that, then we can create great momentum at Anfield, where we know the fans will be fantastic. It’s not over by any means.”
Not for the first time this season Rodgers was left to rue a wasteful performance in front of goal.