• Premier League

Brendan Rodgers fears for Simon Mignolet's confidence

ESPN staff
November 27, 2014
Simon Mignolet has come in for criticism after a string of poor performances for Liverpool © Getty Images

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to blame Simon Mignolet after the goalkeeper's error led to an early setback in the 2-2 Champions League draw with Ludogorets.

Belgium international Mignolet has come in for criticism after several unconvincing performances this season, and Dani Abalo gave the Bulgarian minnows the lead in the third minute after he had fumbled a long-range effort.

Rodgers, however, defended his goalkeeper, saying he hoped the latest mistake does not knock his confidence ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Stoke.

"Hopefully it is not an issue with his confidence," Rodgers said, after Mignolet's recent criticism. "It was a disappointment for the team because we wanted a solid start and to go behind so early was very frustrating."

Liverpool took the lead in Bulgaria after Jordan Henderson added to Rickie Lambert's second goal in as many games before half-time, but Georgi Terziev equalised late on.

The point sets up Liverpool for a must-win final match at home to Group B rivals Basel in a fortnight, where victory would take them through to the knockout stages.

"It was disappointing for the team to go a goal behind so early on but thankfully it didn't cost us," Rodgers said. "The pitch was difficult for players and the goalkeepers, and it was especially bobbly around the 18-yard box.

"The players showed character to come back and not let it affect them."

The Liverpool manager changed his set-up, with Lucas Leiva recalled in central midfield - allowing Steven Gerrard to operate further forward - to make the side more difficult to break down.

Despite seeing them concede twice, Rodgers said he believed the ploy had worked well.

"I felt we needed more of a solid structure so we played two controlling players whose job was not to get ahead of the ball with Steven in front of that," he said. "He has probably not run as much since 2009 and I thought he was excellent.

There can be no slip-ups at Anfield in two weeks, and Rodgers said he was more than happy that Liverpool's destiny was in their own hands.

"We needed to come here and put in a performance which would give us encouragement going forward, and also to have a result which would allow us to still qualify from the group, and we've had both of them," he added.

"It was always going to be a very close group. We have had a good result and should have won the game. Now it is all in our hands, and I can't ask any more than that.

"I am happy to rely on us to play at Anfield in front of our own supporters in the final game."

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