|Shelvey 23||Di Natale 46|
|Suarez 75||Coates o.g. 70|
A game of two halves, as they say.
For the majority of the second half of this match Brendan Rodgers looked well and truly disgusted with his side. This was understandable given the dominance of a first half display that saw the Reds unlucky to be going into the break only one goal up.
It was the kind of first half we've come to expect from a Brendan Rodgers side. Fluid, incisive passing through the centre left Udinese constantly chasing shadows with Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey turning on the style at every opportunity.
The first chance of the game fell to Oussama Assaidi who cut in well from the left in the 5th minute only for his touch to let him down at the crucial moment. At the other end Benatia's set piece header was expertly dealt with by Pepe Reina.
The Reds went ahead in the 23rd minute as some typically liquid football resulted in Stewart Downing having some space on the right wing. He looked up and picked out a well timed run from Shelvey who headed confidently past Brkic. It was a deserved lead and all appeared to be going swimmingly.
Despite Di Natale looking dangerous for the visitors the remainder of the half saw them struggle to get hold of the ball, with the Reds exerting their midfield dominance. Assaidi found himself in some decent positions on more than one occasion but it was not one of the Moroccan's better nights, with his final ball rarely finding a team-mate.
As the half time whistle blew my only thoughts were of how many goals we'd end up getting tonight, as well as a faint hope that we might keep a clean sheet for once. What actually transpired was completely unforeseen.
The fun and games began just 30 seconds into the second half. Glen Johnson's poor touch eventually allowed Lazarri in down the left and his cutback was clinically despatched by Di Natale. It wasn't Johnson's touch that was the problem here – it was the fact that yet again he showed zero effort to track back and defend what was his own error. It's beyond annoying at this stage.
The goal had an unusually bad effect on the Reds as for the next 20 minutes or so they really struggled to get a grip on the game. Shelvey went quiet and Allen wasn't seeing enough of the ball.
Rodgers could see changes were needed and duly introduced Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez on 65 minutes to try and reinvigorate his side. The Uruguayan made an immediate impact as his back-post volley came off Jonjo Shelvey's standing leg when it seemed easier for the usually skilful slaphead to score.
Then came our customary moment of defensive madness in the 70th minute, as a reasonably well flighted free-kick from the left was nodded past Reina by Seb Coates. It was genuinely hard to see what the big man was trying to do as he wasn't under any great pressure. This was a huge pity for him in what was an otherwise excellent performance. Unfortunately for him that goal is all he will be remembered for tonight.
Barely three minutes later and it was 1-3. This time Di Natale held the ball up fantastically well, setting up Joe Pasquale to rifle home from the edge of the box. It was a goal of real quality and showed just what the away side are capable of.
A third goal in the space of five minutes arrived when Luis Suarez rattled in a free-kick from 25 yards to make it 2-3, and with 15 minutes still remaining you felt that the scoring wasn't over yet. Sadly for us it was, and despite late chances for Suarez and sub Raheem Sterling, it ended in another home defeat for Rodgers' men.
A defeat in the Europa League to decent opposition is not really the issue here tonight. The issue is that this is another home defeat which was undeserved on the balance of play, and another night of too many goals being shipped.
The defence must be Rodgers number one concern at this point as it doesn't seem to matter what players he utilises – the errors keep happening. As my suggestion of taking Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson round the back of Melwood and having them shot is unlikely to be heeded by the senior staff at LFC, Rodgers will have to think of something less callous to address the situation. Granted there has been tremendous progress in other areas of the team and on the whole I think things are moving ahead of schedule, but until this problem is addressed it's difficult to see us making any real progress up the league table this season.
Subs: Gerrard for Henderson (65), Suarez for Assaidi (65), Sterling for Borini (79)
Unused Subs: Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Sahin.