On the back of four straight defeats in all competitions, Liverpool needed a positive result in Bulgaria against a decent Ludogorets side. Brendan Rodgers needed a win to temporarily ease the pressure surrounding his future after months of rapid decline that was impossible to ignore, and Liverpool also had the business of halting three Champions League defeats in a row. The rot has been halted on both fronts with a disappointing draw after conceding a late equaliser, one that still leaves Liverpool in control of qualifying from the group.
Rodgers spoke after the game of his tactical switch to use "two controlling players" who offer various qualities to allow Steven Gerrard to play further forward, who was "excellent" according to the manager. Fans have queried the Antrim man's player assessments of late and may also question his optimism after conceding a late goal to draw the game.
We're a little frustrated (not to win) but we needed to come here and put on a performance that was going to allow us to take encouragement and qualification from the group. We had both. The reaction to going behind was fantastic. You saw the character in the group. Of course we are frustrated because at 2-1 it could have been 3-1 or 4-1. At the beginning we said it will probably come down to the last game. It has come down to the last game at Anfield to qualify. It's all you can ever ask for, is for the fate to be in your own hands. I am happy to rely on us to play at Anfield in front of the supporters for qualification. I am really looking forward to that.
Rickie Lambert scored for successive games and should be feeling confident about settling in with the side now, especially considering the goals weren't free-kicks or penalties. Liverpool failed to win the two games he's scored in but can have greater faith in a striker who was brought in as a squad player. Liverpool can also still qualify from the group with a win against FC Basel. It may not be the most glamorous or impressive way of qualifying from what was seen as a kindly group, but it's a case of taking whatever one can get right now. Can Liverpool produce what is required to best tricky opponents and qualify?
As for the man in charge, he will have to show that his side will actually take encouragement from this game and build up some form ahead of a tough week in December with Champions League qualification at stake before a trip to fierce rivals Manchester United. Stoke City (home), Leicester City (away), and Sunderland (home) lie in wait before then.
Liverpool have one game left in November and must produce at least one victory for fans in desperate need of something more than an underwhelming draw. At least Liverpool fans know that the last 16 of the Champions League is still a possibility and should look forward to an Anfield game, where the manager and players can really show the necessary "fantastic" reaction to the situation with the "character" to qualify. They're good enough but need to show it.