Reds rising - Rodgers
'Pool boss lauds Euro stars and backs side to kick on
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side took another significant step forward with qualification for the last 32 of the Europa League last night.
Jordan Henderson's first-half strike, his maiden European goal, against 10-man Udinese was enough for the Reds to top Group A.
However, it could have been a very different story had substitute Antonio di Natale scored with the last kick of the game, an equaliser being enough to send the Merseysiders out after Young Boys won 3-1 at home to Anzhi.
Now Rodgers is looking forward to concentrating on his side's league form for the next couple of months.
"We won and that is good for our future," Rodgers said. "We had two objectives coming into this stage of the tournament, our 10th game in the competition.
"Firstly, qualification was important and secondly, we wanted to give experience to some of our younger players and we have done that.
"At the end, when they had 10 men on a difficult pitch, I thought our idea was better - control the game, pass and hide the ball - especially with young players in the side.
"This is the challenge; we have to make them better players and educate them in the game whilst progressing and thankfully we've done that.
"It was always going to be a tight group and you can see how it finished (Liverpool, Anzhi and Young Boys all on 10 points), but I said to the players I always thought we could finish top."
There have been a few ups and downs along the way, but Rodgers believes Liverpool are starting to gather momentum, both in Europe and domestically.
"I am absolutely delighted because they have been superb through the campaign and their league form is improving and it is really good for our momentum," he added.
"We could have been more comfortable, we had the opportunity to score goals in good areas and that was mostly down to great goalkeeping. I don't think the players could have done much more.
"There was no margin for error and I felt we had to win the game because we were in a difficult group against good teams.
"Over the course of all the games, how we have played and progressed through the tournament, I think we are deserved winners of the group. We can rest well, focus on the league and look forward to next February."