Liverpool were denied a first victory in five matches in Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Ludogorets Razgrad, after a late equaliser earned the Bulgarian champions a 2-2 draw.
The hosts took the lead after just three minutes when Simon Mignolet spilled Fabio Espinho’s shot for Dani Abalo to capitalise, but Rickie Lambert headed in his first Champions League goal to equaliser five minutes later.
Jordan Henderson then steered the Reds in front in the 37th-minute with a cool finish from Raheem Sterling’s low cross, before Georgi Terziev denied them the three points two minutes from the end with a header from a set-piece.
Liverpool can still make it through to the knockout phase with a win against FC Basel in their final group game, but it was nevertheless another frustrating result for Brendan Rodgers' side.
There were rumours in the run-up to the match that Steven Gerrard would be rested on the night, but instead the captain started in a more advanced role, where it was hoped his sharp passing would have a greater impact.
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The 34-year-old performed better than in recent weeks, creating a particularly decisive chance for Sterling in the latter stages which the winger should have finished, but it was obvious that he lacked the pace needed when fielded just behind front man Lambert.
It was an active showing, however, but whether it was enough to convince Rodgers to keep him in that position remains to be seen, with Adam Lallana, who was left on the bench in Bulgaria, standing out as a more suitable option.
Whatever the case, the opinion that he is ill-suited to the holding role seems to be widespread now, with former teammate Jamie Carragher calling for his past attacking duties to be restored for good this week.
“Over the years he’s had fantastic relationships with Owen, Torres, Suarez and Sturridge. He knows where they are, where the ball is going,” he told Sky Sports.
“He hasn’t got that at the moment with any of the strikers, Balotelli, Lambert, Borini.
“He’s not giving that creativity going forward because of that lack of understanding, he’s getting man-marked. I think they’d be better off putting someone else there, like a Lucas who is only going to think defensively.”
With a more dynamic striker in front of him, such as Daniel Sturridge, that creativity might return to the fore, but we won’t know for sure until the England's number nine is back from his latest injury setback.