Liverpool midfielder Lucas hoping to be happier than Hulk after Zenit clash

The Brazilian is eager to get one over on his compatriot in Thursday evening’s Europa League last-32 meeting and is anticipating a “special European night at Anfield”

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva says he hopes he will be happier than his compatriot Hulk after Thursday evening’s Europa League clash with Zenit.

The Reds suffered a 2-0 defeat in Russia in the first leg of the last-32 tie, with second-half goals from Hulk and Sergei Semak punishing their lacklustre display.

Lucas highlighted the former Porto forward as a key man for the visitors and hopes the Reds can keep him quiet.

“We are close, especially as we had the chance to play a few times in the national team together,” the 26-year-old told reporters.

“Hulk scored a good goal against us and he’s an important player for Zenit. After the game we’ll have a friendly chat and hopefully I’ll be happier than him.”

The Premier League outfit have their work cut out if they are to progress to the next stage but, with the return leg at Anfield, Lucas is confident his team-mates can pull off a memorable comeback.

He added: “We know we need to score goals but we also have to play with a defensive mentality because to concede a goal will make it even harder for us.

“We need to try to find the right balance. Hopefully it will be another good night to remember. We really believe that we can get through to the next stage.

“The Europa League is a competition that we always wanted to do well in. We know about the special European nights at Anfield that the crowd give us. They will definitely be our 12th player.”

One of the players that Brendan Rodgers will be relying on is Steven Gerrard, a player Lucas insists can still “change games”.

“I’ve been playing with Stevie for six years already and every week we can see he still has the hunger to win games and be the special player that he has always been for the club,” he added.

“He’s playing in a different position, a deeper role than he was used to, but he’s still able to change games.

“I’m just very happy that we have him on the team. His leadership always makes our lives easier.”

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