Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says, 'We have a fighting chance'

15 February 2013 07:17

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists his side are still in with a fighting chance of turning around their 2-0 Europa League last-32 deficit to Zenit St Petersburg.

Having missed a number of chances - with top scorer Luis Suarez being the main culprit - the Reds went behind to Hulk's brilliant long-range effort after 70 minutes with substitute Sergei Semak adding the second moments later.

It leaves Liverpool's hopes of progress in the balance in the return leg next week but Rodgers remains optimistic, and said: "There is no way the tie is over, not by a long shot. We are more than capable of getting the goals back."

He went on: "I think the next goal is vitally important for us and what gives us hope is we created enough to win the game. If we get it early it can create the momentum for us."

The manager defended his decision to take off Raheem Sterling late on and send on defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva instead of pushing for what would have been a decisive away goal.

"I was just making sure we stayed in the tie, that was the important thing for us," he said.

"As much as we wanted to go on there is another game and at 2-0 you can retrieve something, at 3-0 it would have cost us. The idea was to try to secure the game and keep it where it was at knowing that is retrievable and gives us a fighting chance."

Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti sounded a word of warning to his players amid all the celebration.

"During the first half we had a number of opportunities - as well as our opponents - and in the second half we managed to convert those opportunities into goals," he said.

"The tie is far from over. We're going to Anfield. It's the place where the hosts' fans become monsters, the players become really up for the fight."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Pos Team Pld Pts
- Belgium 0 0
- Panama 0 0
- Tunisia 0 0
- England 0 0