Owen Hargreaves has told BT Sport that he admires Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren for having the courage to take a penalty on Thursday.
The 25-year-old centre-back was among the Liverpool players who were involved in the penalty shootout against Besiktas at the end of the second leg of the Europa League round-of-32 tie in Istanbul.
Lovren, though, failed to convert his spot kick, which proved crucial as Liverpool lost the shootout 5-4, with the tie having ended 1-1 after two legs.
The Croatia international has been criticised by the Merseyside outfit’s fans for his poor performances this season, and his latest ‘horror show’ is not going to endear him to them.
Former Manchester United and Manchester City midfielder Hargreaves, though, has praised Lovren for stepping to take the penalty in the first place.
“You don’t want players taking penalties who don’t want to,” the 34-year-old told BT Sport. “The most important thing is confidence.
“Maybe Lovren had the confidence to kind of step up and revive his Liverpool career, in which he has struggled so far.
“Sadly, it has gone the other way. But I admire the players who are brave enough to take that responsibility. It’s just that the execution was poor.”
One can understand Hargreaves’s argument. Lovren could have easily told manager Brendan Rodgers that he would not take the spot kick, but he actually stepped up to take the fifth - and what ultimately proved to be the decisive - one.
However, one has to question Rodgers’s decision to hand Lovren the responsibility to take the fifth penalty for Liverpool.
The former Southampton star has struggled with form and is low on confidence, and he should have been given an earlier slot, maybe number two or three.