Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson denied his players were not mentally tough enough for the challenge Stoke presented them with as their six-match unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.
He also expressed his disappointment that some fans chose to chant the name of former player-boss Kenny Dalglish towards the end.
"I'm sad a good run has come to an end," he said.
The Reds were second-best throughout and fell behind when Ricardo Fuller poked home in a scramble resulting from Rory Delap's long throw. Kenwyne Jones wrapped things up in the 90th minute before Lucas Leiva was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Hodgson added: "It was always going to be a tough task and I knew we would be hard-pushed to win that battle but I thought we dealt well with the pressure reasonably well.
"Once they scored it was going to be an even further uphill battle. The first goal I am not disappointed in the manner of it because that is the manner of most goals here and that is what you have to defend against.
"For large periods of time I thought we defended it reasonably well but they got their reward from one of those.
"It would be a very unfair accusation that we lacked the mental strength or courage, as our defending from so many of the throws and set-plays proved.
"I thought we stood up as well as we could be expected to considering the pressure we were under.
"I don't think the players threw the towel in and never looked like throwing the towel in."