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Rodgers: Gerrard was excellent but collectively we didn’t perform

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits his side were beaten by the better team as the Reds were denied a place in the FA Cup final by a resurgent Aston Villa.

Villa came from behind to win 2-1 at Wembley as strikes from Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph cancelled out Philippe Coutinho‘s opener.

Liverpool entered the contest as strong favourites, leading their opponents by 25 points in the Barclays Premier League, but Villa deserved their victory after a dynamic and dominant display.

“We’re obviously bitterly disappointed but more with the performance,” Rodgers said. “You can always lose a game but you need to play well and give yourself an opportunity. “We had some chances but I thought they were better than us today to be honest.”

Rodgers continued: “Sometimes you can want to win too much. The focus comes away from what allows you to win.

“The team in the last couple of years have shown great energy, attitude and commitment – I thought our energy was low today.

“Villa had a good start to the game and we were too passive.

“We changed the system, got some joy and got in front but we didn’t keep the lead long enough.

“In the second half we hoped to play better but we just didn’t create enough today.”

The defeat means there will be no fairytale ending to Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career. The FA Cup final, which comes on Gerrard’s 35th birthday, would have been the midfielder’s last game in a Reds shirt before he leaves for America and LA Galaxy in the summer.

“Is it a shame? Absolutely,” Rodgers said. “He did everything he possibly could to help the team. I thought he was excellent today. Collectively we didn’t perform well enough.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 19, 2015: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard looks dejected as his side lose 2-1 to Aston Villa during the FA Cup Semi-Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have struggled to produce their best form in big matches this season, losing important league games to Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks, as well as failing to deliver in the Champions League earlier in the campaign.

“We need to have the courage now to play better in the big games because we didn’t play well enough today,” Rodgers said. ”

Technically we weren’t quite on it. We looked like the occasion got to us a little bit.”

Rodgers added: “The players have that courage, you’ve just got to be consistent with it. “That ability to build a game from behind and deal with the pressure, it’s important.”

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