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The Reds followed up an unconvincing victory over Ludogorets with a 1-0 defeat in Basel and the club captain admits that his side deserved nothing from the Group B game

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says that his side were “soft” in their Champions League defeat by Basel and admits that their start to the season is simply not good enough.

The Reds were undone in Switzerland by a Marco Streller goal after they failed to clear a set-piece and could not find an equaliser.

Gerrard described Basel as only an “okay team” and was again left to rue his side’s fragility from the dead ball.

“We created a good few openings where you would expect us to go and score but we didn’t deserve anything out of this match,” the midfielder told Sky Sports.

“We were too soft all over the pitch and they wanted it more than us, which is very disappointing. Conceding again from set pieces isn’t good enough and we need to get it right.

“We were second best at times. Against an okay team, I wouldn’t say we were played off the park or they were fantastic but we made it easy for them. We wanted something out of this game, at least a draw. We came for the win and I expected us to win and so it’s very disappointing.

“We’ll discuss it and analyse. There were signs against Everton that we were getting back to where we want to be – we were aggressive without the ball – but we went back to the way we’ve been all season and it’s not good enough.”

Liverpool now face Real Madrid in back-to-back games in the Champions League, on October 22 at Anfield and November 4 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The striker failed to find the back of the net again as Liverpool suffered a defeat to Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday night

Brendan Rodgers wants to see Mario Balotelli make a bigger contribution to the team after Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Basel on Wednesday.

The Premier League club were beaten by a second-half strike by Marco Streller in a Champions League game in which the visitors failed to significantly threaten the Swiss outfit in front of goal.

Balotelli’s goal in the 2-1 win over Ludogorets is the only one he has scored since arriving from AC Milan this summer and the Liverpool boss wants more from his investment.

“[He] worked hard, [but he] needs to do more,” Rodgers told Sky Sports. “That’s the simplicity of it. Mario will be judged on what he creates and what he scores and he didn’t score.

“But the boy is trying, he is working hard.”

Despite seeing a goal disallowed for offside, Raheem Sterling also struggled to test the Basel back line, but Rodgers refused to criticise the youngster.

He added: “I think [Sterling]‘s gaining lots of experience. He’s still a young player. He worked very hard tonight, he obviously had a task on his hands on that side of the field and he got into some real good positions.

“Unfortunately he obviously had the goal disallowed in the first half and got himself just offside for that and, as I said, he was unfortunate.

“He had a great combination on the edge of the box, got in and his touch just got away from him but that’s something that he’s learning from. He’s still only 19 and he’s an exceptional talent.”

The 33-year-old capitalised on slack marking from a corner to bundle in the winner on 52 minutes and dent the Reds’ hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stage

Marco Streller’s close-range finish continued Basel’s impressive recent record against Premier League opposition and dealt Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying from Champions League group stage a serious blow as they were beaten 1-0.

Streller capitalised on some slack marking from a corner in the 52nd minute to bundle in the only goal of a game which saw the Reds uninspired in the first half and profligate in the second.

Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic both spurned presentable opportunities as the Reds pushed forward in search of an equaliser but Brendan Rodgers’s men now go into two matches with Real Madrid level on points with the Swiss champions.

Liverpool made two changes to their starting line-up from Saturday’s Premier League derby draw against Everton, with Jose Enrique replacing Alberto Moreno and Philippe Coutinho coming back in for Adam Lallana.
Basel went into the match with problems at the back, with Marcelo Diaz suspended and fellow defenders Philipp Degen, Ivan Ivanov and Walter Samuel all sidelined through injury. Paulo Sousa also preferred Breel Embolo to Derlis Gonzalez up front, even though the Paraguay international was on target in defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Sterling had the ball in the net in the opening stages but the flag was correctly up for offside, while Basel had to make an early change when Behrang Safari limped off to be replaced by Gonzalez.
Liverpool survived a scare when Gerrard was dispossessed in front of his own box, while Gonzalez was twice guilty of a poor touch when getting the wrong side of Enrique.
Basel continued to show plenty of pace on the break, with Simon Mignolet saving well with his legs from a Serey Die shot, and Enrique caused problems when getting forward for Liverpool but it remained goalless at the break.

The home fans were appealing for a penalty when Sterling appeared to bundle over Gonzalez in the area at the start of the second half and then Mignolet had to get down well to save from Ahmed Hamoudi on the break.

However, Mignolet could only palm out a deflected header from the resulting corner and veteran striker Streller pounced on the loose ball to score from close range after 52 minutes.

Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik only just dealt with a Mario Balotelli free kick from fully 30 yards out and Sterling was later put clean through following a neat build-up, but could not control the pass.

Rickie Lambert replaced Markovic as Liverpool went in search of an equaliser but Gerrard’s late free kick failed to really test Vaclik and Balotelli was offside when netting as the hosts held on.

Basel, who had to play their last European home match behind closed doors because of crowd trouble, could face more disciplinary action, though, after referee Jonas Eriksson reported an object thrown onto the pitch.

The Reds boss says his striker could play some part against West Brom at the weekend but is hopeful Roy Hodgson will not call him up for the Three Lions

Brendan Rodgers says Daniel Sturridge could play for Liverpool this weekend but is not fit enough to be called into the England squad.

The striker is currently out with a hamstring injury, picked up on international duty, and has been ruled out of Wednesday’s Champions League tie at Basel, although Rodgers is hoping he could play against West Brom on Saturday.

Hodgson is due to name his England squad on Thursday for forthcoming fixtures against San Marino and Estonia but Rodgers says Sturridge is not fit enough to be called up.

“He won’t be fit to play for England – whether he’s available for the weekend or not,” he told reporters. “I don’t think he’s fit to play for England.

“We are hoping he can develop over the next 48 hours, to be in a position to train with the team on Thursday, but that would his first involvement with the team, on Thursday, Friday and have the availability maybe for the squad for Saturday.

“But if we are talking about players to be picked for international duty then they need to be fit to play, and Daniel certainly won’t be fit to play.”

When asked if Rodgers expected Sturridge to be omitted from Hodgson’s squad, he said he was hopeful adding:  “It’s something we have already stressed. We will see.

“My focus is on protecting the Liverpool players and at this moment in time my focus is on getting him fit for Liverpool.

“We have good dialogue and he knows he can call and speak about any of the players.

“Hopefully he will have found anything I have ever said about the England players working with Liverpool to be helpful.”

Manager Roberto Martinez admits that “the signs are not good” for the Belgian forward after he was stretchered off during Saturday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield

Everton manager Roberto Martinez says that “the signs are not great” as the club await news on the severity of an injury to Kevin Mirallas.

The Belgian was carried off on a stretcher during the first half of Saturday’s Merseyside derby after pulling up with a hamstring problem.

Mirallas was clearly in pain as he left the field, although a full diagnosis of the injury to his right leg has yet to be made and the Toffees are hopeful that he can make a swift recovery but Martinez concedes that the 26-year-old could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

He told the club’s official website: “These type of injuries, sometimes you need over 48 hours for the inflammation to go down.

“We had a few scans and we are going to carry on [Tuesday]. It isn’t a straightforward diagnosis but obviously the signs are not great.

“We are going to make sure we are clear with the problem. It’s not normal when Kevin Mirallas feels something like that and has to come off in the game. We know then that it is something serious.

“We need to make sure we get the full report before we know exactly what is wrong with Kevin. He has always been a very fit boy who is always ahead of schedule and we hope this time it is going to be exactly the same.”

Mirallas had made an impressive start to the campaign, making the timing of his injury all the more frustrating for Everton.

Martinez added: “His game has gone from strength to strength and the way he had started the season had been really positive. He was scoring goals and being a real threat in everything we do going forward.

“We are going to miss him so that is why it is so important that the medical team work well with his rehab and make sure that, when he comes back, he comes back refreshed and stronger. We have plenty games left for him to be as influential as he has already this season.”

Everton are set to make late decisions on whether to include recent injury victims Seamus Coleman, Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar in their squad for Thursday’s Europa League match against Krasnodar, a fixture which Mirallas will definitely miss.

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