LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers blamed the poor performance produced by his players immediately after half-time for the rapid transformation with which they went from an apparently comfortable position to a damaging home defeat.
Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey capped a fine, flowing passing move with an authoritative header to give Liverpool a deserved 23rd-minute lead but a goal straight after half-time from Udinese’s record goalscorer Antonio Di Natale followed by two in three minutes later on in the game left the home side with too much to do as Luis Suarez’s free-kick did little beyond reducing their deficit.
“We were very, very good in the first half,” said Rodgers. “The problems we had in the first 15 minutes of the second half has been with us since the beginning of the season when we lose concentration and get lazy, and all of a sudden in that period we found ourselves 3-1 down.
“We’re just disappointed that, after such a good first-half of control and domination, to go and give away such poor goals at the beginning of the second-half obviously left us chasing the game at 3-1.
“We just concede goals too easily and that’s something we need to improve on.”
The defeat was Liverpool’s third consecutive at Anfield but one that in this instance they were perhaps unfortunate to have to undergo. They are now third in Group A on with one loss and one defeat from the two European games but the control and style exhibited in the opening half was undermined only by a lack of true quality when it counted in front of goal.
Di Natale’s cultured finish for the equaliser came only 32 seconds into the second-half, and soon Sebastian Coates’s headed own goal and Giovanni Pasquale’s powerful low strike left the home side two behind.
The substitute Suarez curled a masterful free-kick into Udinese’s top corner with 15 minutes to go but though he, Raheem Sterling and more went close, the vital equaliser did not come.