Liverpool 3 - 1 Zenit St. Petersburg

Match info: Europa League - Round of 32 at Anfield

Date: 21/02/2013 KO: 20:05 Ref: B Kuipers Att: 43,026

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Liverpool

Luis Suarez 28,59
Joe Allen 43

3
vs
1

Zenit

Hulk 19

FT (ht: 2-1)

Aggregate Score: 3-3
Zenit St Petersburg win on away goals rule

  • Last Updated: February 21 2013, 23:36 GMT

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hailed the spirit of his football club after a fine - but narrowly unsuccessful - comeback against Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League.

Luis Suarez shows his disappointment at the full-time whistle
Luis Suarez shows his disappointment at the full-time whistle

The Reds responded to falling 3-0 behind on aggregate early in the second leg of their last-32 tie at Anfield by feeding off a vibrant crowd to level the overall score.

Luis Suarez struck twice from free-kicks and Joe Allen tucked in at the second attempt from close range but Hulk's vital away goal - gifted to him by veteran Jamie Carragher - ultimately proved decisive.

The Reds produced a host of other chances to take the lead and also had a strong penalty appeal turned down after Tomas Hubocan appeared to handle.

Rodgers said: "I'm very proud of the club and the players tonight.

"I think, even though we lost the tie, the football club and players showed they are part of probably the world's greatest football family, here at Liverpool, with atmosphere and what the players put into the game.

"To have to come back from a three-goal deficit and put that effort and quality into the game, it was an absolutely phenomenal show.

"I don't think the players could have done any more, the crowd certainly couldn't have done any more. It was one of those nights.

"It was a fantastic night but unfortunately we probably lost the tie over there.

"At this level, to have to score that many goals and nearly do it gave me great pride."

Rodgers had no doubt his side should have had a spot-kick in the second half.

He said: "It certainly was a penalty, everyone could see that.

"I don't think there was any doubt, especially when you have got an official behind the goal looking clear at it."

Rodgers had no issue with club hero Carragher, whose 150th European appearance for the club turned out to be his last given his recent decision to retire at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old was at fault for the opening goal when he miscontrolled the ball and £32million Brazilian Hulk stole in to score his second of the tie.

Rodgers said: "There is no blame. It is probably the first mistake I have seen him make since I came to the football club, and that includes every game in training.

"I thought he was brilliant tonight, how he controlled Hulk, who is a real threat with his strength and power.

"It is one of those unfortunate things.

"I am disappointed for Carra. He is a brilliant professional and deserved to go into the next round and play again, but unfortunately it is not to be."

Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti admitted Liverpool's recovery did cause him some concern.

The former Roma boss said: "The result was not decided until the very last minute so of course I was worried.

"But every time when I started worrying my players came through. They made the right moves all the time, so it was okay."

Spalletti had said his team would not sit back on their 2-0 first-leg led and he felt his strategy worked well.

He said: "You can't follow one gameplan throughout. You have to play by ear and change depending on situations.

"Before we came to Liverpool I said we would score a goal at Anfield and we did.

"You we had to carry on playing football. You can't just clam up and play defensively. You have to attack as well."


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