Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has refused to blame Steven Gerrard for the defeat against Manchester United and felt that his side were poor in the first half which led to the defeat.

Liverpool were trailing Manchester United after the first half thanks to a Juan Mata strike, so Rodgers put on Gerrard for Adam Lallana in the second half to add more control in midfield that the Merseysiders were lacking. However, the 34-year old lasted just over a minute before he was sent off for a stamp on Ander Herrera. United went on to score again and held on despite a Daniel Sturridge strike to claim the three points and a five-point lead over Liverpool.

After the game, when Rodgers was asked about Gerrard’s challenge, he said, “I think with Steven, it was purely [him] wanting to make the impact.

“He’s made his apologies for it. Of course, in a big game you suffer when you play with 10 men against 11. But it happened and it’s great respect to the players who were on there that they kept fighting.

“In games like that, especially if it goes to 2-0 against 10 men, you can get overrun and you can end up losing more goals.

“But the players showed immense responsibility and spirit to keep going and to keep the game open right the way through to the very end.”

He added: “[Steven] is a highly competitive player. He made a great challenge when he first came on [on Mata].

“It was probably our first challenge of the game, in all due respect. He’s wanted to help the team so much. I won’t criticise him because he’s been brilliant in my time here.

“Sometimes these things happen. If you look at our team as a whole and how we play the game, it doesn’t happen very much to our team. Unfortunately it did today. We’ll move on.

“It’s big of someone when they do get sent off to come out and apologise. Steven was probably a little frustrated watching us in the first half – we didn’t make a tackle – and at least he was man enough to come out and make that apology.”

Rodgers also added that his side were outplayed tactically on the pitch in the first half, “We disappointed in the first half.

“Our game was set up to press the opponent really high up the pitch, but our starting positions were way too deep from the early stages of the game and we handed over control way too easy.

“Rightly they were in front in the first half, they circulated the ball well and we were never in positions to press well enough.

“In the second half, we went down to 10 men early on but the players showed why they have been on the run that they have, with their character and resilience and they were still in the game right until the very end.

“That was the message to them afterwards: I take great pride in that. Not so happy with the first half – it was a game where the first half cost us more than the second.

“In that system, you have to be able to press well and pass well. If you’re not doing both elements of the game then, of course, it becomes much more difficult for you to be effective.

“And that’s how it was in the game today. In the first half, we weren’t passing it anywhere near well enough. Ultimately we weren’t pressing either.

“Both sides of our game suffered. We just didn’t play well enough. You have to accept that. It just wasn’t our day.”