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Ludogorets 2, Liverpool 2: First Thoughts

Liverpool relinquish a late lead in predictable fashion to draw in Bulgaria as things continue to spiral out of control for Brendan Rodgers.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

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Ludogorets 2 Dani Abalo 3', Terziev 88'
Liverpool 2 Lambert 8', Henderson 37'

  • On the back of four consecutive defeats in all competitions, Liverpool arrived in Sofia needing a victory both to be assured of staying alive in Group B in the Champions League and stop the crucial bleeding surrounding the club in recent weeks. Brendan Rodgers' team selection was a bit baffling, with both Steven Gerrard and Lucas starting, and Glen Johnson and Javier Manquillo the fullback pairing. It quickly became apparent that Gerrard would at least start in a higher position as was speculated pre-match, with something resembling a basic 4-4-2 taking shape, and Gerrard and Rickie Lambert becoming the official Least Pacy Frontline Ever. 

  • Within two minutes all the problems surfaced. A turnover in Liverpool's attacking half turned into a simple counter attack, a Kolo Toure mistake, a shot Simon Mignolet couldn't deal with, and a tap-in by Dani Abalo from the rebound. An awful start for Liverpool launched a massive test for Rodgers' men. 

  • Only six minutes later, Lambert took advantage of an absolute howler of an error by the Ludogorets defense. The ball was allowed to bounce twice between defender and keeper, and the opportunistic big man did not mess about, burying the header in the far corner for his first European goal for Liverpool just days after his first League goal. 

  • The rest of the half brought a substantial amount of pressure from Ludogorets, with Liverpool struggling to cope with even the slight bursts of pace by the Bulgarian side. It had looked as though Liverpool were moments from conceding until Lambert won the ball back in their own half and Raheem Sterling produced an absolutely unbelievable assist for Jordan Henderson to tap in the back post, to take a 2-1 lead into the half. 

  • The second half started in a similarly open fashion to the end of the first. Liverpool got away with a few defensive errors early, and once again struggled to grab hold of the match, but ultimately it was a pretty even, sloppy, and poor half for much of it. A dangerous free kick to Ludogorets after the umpteenth weak call, and a disallowed goal blast over the crossbar by Henderson were about all there was to talk about for the first 30 minutes or so of the half.  

  • Around the 65 minute mark Sterling starting imposing himself a bit more on the match, realizing he could actually run at the defenders to some effect. Unfortunately, Gerrard's complete lack of pace and hustle stifled quite a bit of the good the youngster was attempting. Both teams started tiring, but Rodgers was the slower of the managers to react with substitutes, and in fact Ludogorets used all three before Liverpool used even one. In a must-win game, 70 75 80 minutes gone, and a lead to protect, it was hard to understand why Rodgers was so reluctant to bring on fresh legs. 

  • The final 10 minutes were quite nervy, and of course Ludogorets equalized predictably in the 88th minute off a set piece. Who could have seen that coming? Of course set piece defending is a problem, but with two completely immobile front players, Ludogorets was free to launch attack after attack, and the equalizer was inevitable. 

  • Hugely disappointing performance and result, and Liverpool, while still in control of their own destiny, look very unlikely to do anything good on a football pitch these days.

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.

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