Brendan Rodgers has deflected criticism aimed at his ‘keeper Pepe Reina after the Spaniard’s error almost cost Liverpool a place in the Europa League group stages.
The Reds drew 1-1 with Hearts on the night, going through 2-1 on aggregate, but it could have been a very different story had Luis Suarez not scored the decisive equaliser two minutes from time.
Hearts’ David Templeton gave the visitors the lead after launching a seemingly routine shot at goal from just outside the area, but Reina somehow spooned the shot into the net.
Despite the error, Rodgers remains confident in his shot-stopper’s ability: “Pepe has been brilliant since I’ve been here. He’s been a pivotal part of how we work. He’s been excellent off the field, a real good guy who understands the ideology of what we’re trying to do.
“Unfortunately for goalkeepers it’s part and parcel of the game. There’s no blame attached – unfortunately for goalkeepers they make a mistake and sometimes it leads to a goal.”
It sums up an unconvincing two-legged victory for Liverpool, who needed an own goal from Andy Webster in the first leg to take a lead back to Anfield.
Rodgers’ side will now play Udinese, Young Boys and Anzhi in the group stages following lunchtime’s draw.