Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers praised the “desire and commitment” of his side following their 1-0 Europa League third qualifying round first leg win over Gomel last night.
Stewart Downing’s second-half strike ensured Rodgers’ first competitive match in charge ended in victory, and the Antrim-born boss was happy with what he saw at the Central Stadion in Belarus.
“It will take time until Liverpool start playing the way Swansea did last season [tactically],” he said. “Actually the way you play depends on the players you have.
“As for today I saw two things which were very important for me, I saw desire and commitment. I am very grateful to my players for a good game.
“This was my first competitive game in charge of Liverpool and for me it didn’t really matter whether the game was played in Belarus or Brazil as I am really honoured to manage this side.”
However, his first match at the helm did not go all Liverpool’s way. The hosts, who are halfway through their domestic campaign, dominated the majority of the game and could have won but for some poor finishing.
Rodgers continued: “This game was a great test for us at this point of the season. Today we saw that Gomel is a very good club which is already into the season.
“Their tactical idea was to defend and counter-attack so it was difficult for us to find the open spaces in the first half but at half-time I told my players to be patient and that the chances would come.
“After the first 45 minutes I also changed the structure of the midfield and Steven Gerrard started to play a bit lower than the other two central midfielders.
“I am glad that Stewart scored the goal as we put him on that side to come in and shoot. It was a great shot.”
On the other flank, Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at Lille, lasted just 23 minutes before picking up what looked like a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere, a deflected injury-time strike denied Dundee United a memorable Europa League victory against Dinamo Moscow as the Russians twice fought back in an absorbing 2-2 draw at Tannadice.
Keith Watson looked to have earned United the advantage in the first leg of the third qualifying round after he bundled home from close range — but Alexander Kokorin silenced the home crowd with a 25-yard strike.
United had taken the lead against the run of play in the 37th minute when Dubliner Willo Flood drove home from 16 yards before Igor Semshov headed the Russians level five minutes after the break.
Europa League qualifiers: Anji Makhachkala 2 Vitesse Arnhem 0; KuPS Kuopio 1 Bursaspor 0; Arsenal Kyiv 3 NK Mura 0; Dila Gori 0 Anorthosis 1; AIK Stockholm 3 Lech Poznan 0; APOEL Nicosia 2 Aalesund 1; Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv 0 PAOK Saloniki 2; Kalmar 1 Young Boys Bern 0; Ried 2 Legia Warsaw 1; Ruch Chorzow 0 Viktoria Plzen 2; Tromso 1 Metalurg Donetsk 1; SC Heerenveen 4 Rapid Bucuresti 0; FC Twente Enschede 2 Mlada Boleslav 0; Servette 1 Rosenborg 1; Steaua Bucuresti 0 Trnava 1; Asteras Tripolis 1 Maritimo 1; Gomel 0 Liverpool 1; Racing Genk 2 Aktobe 1; AC Horsens 1 Elfsborg 1; Red Star Belgrade 0 Omonia Nicosia 0; FT Videoton FC 1 AA Gent 0; Dundee United 2 Dynamo Moscow 0; Eskisehirspor 1 Marseille 1; Hajduk Split 0 Inter Milan 3; St Patrick’s Athletic 0 Hannover 3; Athletic Bilbao 3 Slaven Belupo 1; FK Sarajevo 2 Zeta Golubovci 1; Vojvodina Novi Sad 2 Rapid Vienna 1; Admira Wacker 0 Sparta Prague 2.
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