Simon Mignolet error due to pitch, says Brendan Rodgers

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to blame goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for another error which could have ended their Champions League dream.

SOFIA, BULGARIA - Wednesday, November 26, 2014: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet fumbles the ball to PFC Ludogorets Razgrad's Dani Abalo to score the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Belgium international has come in for criticism this season for a number of unconvincing performances and when he fumbled, Dani Abalo gave Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets a third-minute lead.

But despite much criticism of Mignolet, with Australian Brad Jones his understudy, Rodgers seems unwilling to gamble on dropping his first choice shotstopper.

Striker Rickie Lambert's second goal in as many games and a Jordan Henderson strike turned things around before the break but Georgi Terziev nicked an equaliser at the death to set up a must-win final match at home to Group B rivals Basle in a fortnight, where victory would take Liverpool through to the knock-out stage.

"It was disappointing for the team to go a goal behind so early on but thankfully it didn't cost us," said Rodgers of Mignolet's error.

"The pitch was difficult for players and the goalkeepers, and it was especially bobbly around the 18-yard box.

"The players showed character to come back and not let it affect them."

SOFIA, BULGARIA - Wednesday, November 26, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the UEFA Champions League Group B match against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at the Vasil Levski National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers changed his set-up with Lucas Leiva recalled in central midfield, allowing Steven Gerrard to operate further forward, in order to make the side more difficult to break down and despite conceding twice, the manager felt it worked well.

"I felt we needed more of a solid structure so we played two controlling players whose job was not to get ahead of the ball with Steven in front of that – so he has probably not run as much since 2009 and I thought he was excellent," he said.

There can be no more slip ups in the clash at Anfield in two weeks but Rodgers insisted he was more than happy their destiny was in their own hands.

"We are frustrated but we needed to come here and put in a performance which would give us encouragement going forward, and also to have a result which would allow us to still qualify from the group and we've had both of them," he said.

"The reaction to going behind was magnificent. Of course we are frustrated because we had defended very well but we've come away with a point.

"It was always going to be a very close group. We have had a good result and should have won the game. Now it is all in our hands and I can't ask any more than that.

"I am happy to rely on us to play at Anfield in front of our own supporters in the final game."

PA

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