Madrid: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers defended his team selection for Tuesday`s 1-0 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid, saying his side deserved more from the game after what he called "an excellent performance".
Rodgers made a host of changes from the side that lost to Newcastle United in the Premier League at the weekend, leaving captain Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Mario Balotelli on the bench.
Karim Benzema scored the winner for Real in the 27th minute at the Bernabeu and while Liverpool barely threatened, they did at least manage to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from netting the goal that would have equalled the Champions League scoring record of 71 held by Raul.
While the defeat leaves Liverpool in a difficult position with two group games remaining, victories at Ludogorets and at home to FC Basel should see them through to the last 16.
"We defended very, very well when we had to against a team that is the best in the world at the moment," Rodgers told a news conference.
"I thought we were very unfortunate not to get something from the game," added the Northern Irishman, whose side play at home to leaders Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday.
"At this stadium usually the game is finished after 15, 20 minutes and I thought we deserved maybe a point from the game."
Rodgers said Liverpool`s domestic struggles had prompted him to ring the changes and players, who were rested on Tuesday would not necessarily feature against Chelsea.
Liverpool are seventh in the Premier League after 10 matches, 12 points behind the unbeaten London club.
"This was the team I thought would get us a performance and a result," Rodgers said.
"I didn’t see this as a showcase game where we had to play the so-called big names.
"We’ve got another big game at the weekend and I thought the players who came in were excellent.
"It might have seemed a gamble but certainly for me it wasn’t.
"We’ve got seven games in 21 days and this is where now I have to put my trust in the squad.
"That’s what I did tonight and thankfully we put in a very good performance but now we have to focus on the Chelsea game.
"If a player is playing well, whether he is an older or a younger player, I always look at the performance."