Brendan Rodgers Relishing Challenge Ahead After Tough Europa League Draw


Brendan Rodgers Relishing Challenge Ahead After Tough Europa League DrawBrendan Rodgers
has set his sights on guiding Liverpool into the knockout stages of the Europa League after today's group-stage draw handed the Reds a tough assignment in the form of three difficult opponents.

The draw in Monaco placed the Reds in Group A where they will take on Italian outfit Udinese, Swiss side Young Boys and big-spending FC Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia.

"It's always interesting to see who you get," Rodgers said. "They are games that we will relish. The history of this club is based on European games and we are really looking forward to the challenge of getting into the next stages between now and Christmas.

"I think first and foremost it was another step forward for us on Thursday night in qualifying. We had tough games against Gomel and Hearts.

"A British cup tie like the one against Hearts was always going to be difficult but we came through it and we're making the step forward into the group stages now. We've got three teams that will all be difficult games for us."

Luis Suarez netted the crucial goal for the Reds at Anfield on Thursday night to secure qualification after Pepe Reina spilled David Templeton's effort in the 84th minute to give Hearts a lifeline in the tie.

And Rodgers revealed how he was quick to reassure his keeper at Melwood this morning — but not before wishing the Spaniard a happy 30th birthday.

"I spoke to Pepe briefly after the game and my first message to him this morning was to send him a text to wish him happy birthday," said Rodgers. "He probably won't feel too good after last night but he's been fantastic for me since I've come here.

"He really understands what I'm trying to do and he's been very supportive on the field in what we're trying to do.  As a goalkeeper it was just one of those things. Every outfield player can make mistakes and get away with it but for a goalkeeper there's no hiding place.

"Pepe's a good guy and what's important is that you reflect on the mistake and you use it as a lever to move on. It's gone now. It happens. Everybody makes mistakes. I will make mistakes as will the players but what you have to do is realize that you have made a mistake, reflect on it and move on."

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