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Lambert "Devastated" But Hopeful of Qualification to Knockout Rounds

Another late goal conceded meant two dropped points for Liverpool, but Rickie Lambert--one of Liverpool's standouts on a relatively disappointing evening--is still confident they'll get the result they need against Basel in two weeks' time.

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Late equalizers have become something of a pattern for Liverpool despite Brendan Rodgers' insistence that there's no lack of concentration in the squad. Rodgers' side have failed to match the goalscoring heights of last season but have still managed to take a one-goal lead six times late in matches this season. That hasn't turned out particularly well:

Ludogorets made it two in two after equalizing late at Anfield in the reverse fixture, which proved to undercut much of the excitement about Liverpool's return to the Champions League despite the fact that they eventually won the match. Tonight that wasn't the case, as they took a 2-1 lead into the final five minutes of the match after trailing 1-0 in the opening minutes.

A Rickie Lambert header minutes after Ludogorets' opener level the tie, and the third-choice striker put together a largely solid performance up top on the heels of a quality display in the loss against Crystal Palace on Sunday. And while the result was ultimately disappointing, the former Southampton man was in a positive mood post-match:

"We wanted the win and we almost got it. We've got to take heart out of that and it's upwards now. That's all we're thinking of. We've got to go for an even better performance on Saturday [against Stoke City]. It meant a lot. It was my first start in the Champions League so it was brilliant to get off the mark and get us back into the game.

"I thought our performance was a lot better today and that was the main thing. We're devastated to concede at the end. We knew that if we got a draw here then a win on the last day will get us through."

Two starts and 180-plus minutes in the last five days leaves  the striker an obvious doubt for a start at the weekend, but two goals in two is, unfortunately, Liverpool's best goal return of the season from a forward. If he's able to continue in any capacity it'll be a bonus for Rodgers, though, as the manager has been desperate for a reliable option up front in the absence of Daniel Sturridge and with Mario Balotelli failing to find the net with any sort of regularity.

Rickie Lambert is no Luis Suarez, but in his last two appearances he's finally made a significant impact, and hopefully his optimism about the future for both him and Liverpool plays out.

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