Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish lamented his side’s luck and lack of creativity after their European campaign ended on Thursday.
After losing 1-0 to Sporting Braga in the first leg in Portugal one week ago, Dalglish’s side were uninspiring in a dull 0-0 second-leg draw which sent them packing out of the Europa League.
The Portuguese side were well organised and limited chances for the Reds, who could not find the back of the net despite a first start for 35-million-pound club record transfer Andy Carroll.
“Over the two legs, a penalty has separated the two teams,” Dalglish said.
“There wasn’t much between either side. They were very well organised and we knew the responsibility was on us to break them down and score a goal. If Andy’s header had gone in, in the first half it could have been a different outcome, but we never put anything past the goalkeeper.”
“You need to be really strong creatively if you are going to break down a very organised side or you need a bit of luck and we certainly have not had much fortune over two legs – but I guess everyone says they should have more luck then they get.”
“Like every other team in the world we could do with a bit more creativity but we are no different than anyone else.”
Dalglish was pleased with Carroll’s performance but admitted he did not expect him to play the full 90 minutes and it was only the necessity for a goal that kept him on the pitch.
“Carroll stayed on longer than we hoped he would have to stay on but necessity meant he had to stay on the pitch because we were looking for a goal,” he said.
“Overall we are pleased to see him back on the pitch and we were not disappointed with his contribution in any way. It was a bit unfortunate he did not score a goal; he put one header wide in the first half and then had one stopped by Dirk Kuyt in the second.
“Considering it was his first start I think he can be very pleased with how he played.”
Dalglish said he was unsure whether it would help his side in the latter stages of the season to avoid playing European football, something his side won’t do next year unless they finish fifth or higher in the Premier League.
Despite very excitable celebrations from his team after the match, Braga manager Domingos Paciencia did not apologise, preferring to explain the significance of the aggregate win for his side as they reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League for the first time.
“We have reasons to be proud tonight,” Paciencia said.
“We achieved a different level that we have never achieved before. I ask Liverpool supporters to appreciate the way we celebrated the way we did because this is a different level. Don’t take things the wrong way for the way we celebrated. We are proud.”