JUST when Brendan Rodgers appears to have soothed Liverpool FC’s domestic pains, so their Europa League campaign has started to flare up.
A remarkable, topsy-turvy encounter ended in the familiar outcome of a home defeat as Udinese snaffled a 3-2 win at Anfield last night.
It was tough on Rodgers’ side, their lively attacking performance undone by continued worrying shortcomings in defence.
The football philosophy the Northern Irishman is seeking to introduce has been much debated.
But boring it certainly is not.
Liverpool’s two group outings have now seen 13 goals, Jonjo Shelvey lighting the blue touchpaper last night with a 23rd-minute opener.
But after Antonio di Natale equalised shortly after the interval, an own goal by Sebastian Coates and a Giovanni Pasquale drive put the visitors in control before substitute Luis Suarez’s free-kick gave Liverpool late hope.
While Rodgers will be enthused by his team’s forward play, his warning to eliminate individual defensive mistakes has clearly not yet been heeded. Three clean sheets in 13 games this season tells its own story.
Udinese were more streetwise, more ruthless and, ultimately, more effective.
And with Anzhi Makhachkala having beaten Young Boys earlier in the evening, Liverpool now face an uphill task to qualify from a group that has always looked a big ask for a team in such obvious transition.
Having missed out on Champions League qualification in a dramatic play-off penalty shoot-out defeat to Braga, Udinese have started poorly in Serie A, like Liverpool winning only one of their first six games and languishing towards the foot of the table.