Liverpool FC marked their return to the Champions League with a hard fought win over Ludogorets as Steven Gerrard scored winner from the spot.
Liverpool struggled to score past Ludogorets and it took them 82 minutes to take the lead when Mario Balotelli scored his first goal since joining the Reds. But the home side’s joy was short lived as Dani Abalo equalized for Ludogorets. It seemed as if the Bulgarian club will manage a memorable result on their visit to Anfield, but Steven Gerrard scored the winner the spot in the dying moments as Javier Manquillo was fouled in the box by Milan Borjan.
Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the win and he praised Ludogorets for their efforts on the night.
“It is a great three points for us. Our objective going into the game was to win the game, your home games in this competition are very important for you.
“You could see they were technically good, they are a team that is not used to losing games and they have come into it unbeaten in seven. They are champions of their country, so it was always going to be a difficult match.
“We are still adapting with a lot of new players coming into the squad. At times in other games in the league we have been outstanding and at other times we have been a wee bit slow. But the thing I can never question is the determination and character of this team.
“So to get that win tonight and start back in the Champions League with three points was vital for us and I am delighted for the players and the mentality tonight.
“They are a team that will take points off other teams in the group, but tonight we got three points and it’s a great start for us.” – The Liverpool manager said.
Rodgers wasn’t surprised the Steven Gerrard popped up with the winner and believes that the late goal showed how his team was prepared to fight till the end.
“We have seen that [late goals] so many times over the years, but I think it says everything about the club. You have to play right until the end and maybe in the first six months I was here that was a game we may have drawn or even lost.
“Even with the late equaliser, coming back to get the penalty showed we were still on the front foot to try and score. There is no one better in the pressure situation than Steven Gerrard and it was a great penalty from him.” – Rodgers added.