Brendan Rodgers has hailed his young Liverpool side after they reached the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Liverpool defeat Udinese 1-0 in Italy to secure top spot in Group A thanks to Jordan Henderson’s first-half strike, while Young Boys defeated Anzhi 3-1 in Switzerland.
And the Liverpool manager believes his side fully deserve to be the group winners.
“I thought we were fantastic tonight,” he told reporters.
“We had two objectives coming into this stage of the tournament. Firstly, tonight was our 10th game in the tournament and qualification was important. Secondly, we wanted to give some experience to our younger players.
“When you’re 17, 18, 19 and 20 years of age like some of them are, this is a big learning curve.
“Our challenge is to make them better players and educate them in the game. They have done well tonight.
“We were in a difficult group with good teams – teams with good Champions League experience and one of the richest teams in the world.
“But the mentality of the team was very strong and our desire and belief was very strong. We won and that is good for our future.
Henderson won special praise from Rodgers who said the 22-year-old’s display showed the improvement he has made.
“His industry tonight was superb,” Rodgers said.
“He is a great lad. He works very, very hard and he’s come in over the last month or so and made a good contribution to the team.
“He was unfortunate not to get a second goal – the ‘keeper made a wonderful save – but he’s got that quality to arrive in the box and he’s got a finish in him.
“I’m delighted with him and his hard work is paying off.”
Meanwhile, Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin downplayed the defeat, believing that his team played well but just did not have enough against such ‘a great team’.
The defeat at the Stadio Friuli saw the Italians finish bottom of the group.
“We played a good game against a great Liverpool side, losing only from a dead-ball situation. It is a pity that we could not finish our campaign with a win,” Guidolin told reporters.
“We were pitted in the toughest group in the draw but we have done our bit. Our European adventure is over for another year but I believe we have given our fans something good to remember.
“We leave with our heads high and the memory of that great victory at Anfield. That will be something positive that we can take away with us.”
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