LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers insisted it was disrespectful to suggest his selection policy was wrong as the Reds went down 1-0 to Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League in Moscow.
Liverpool, who left the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at home, lost to Lacina Traore’s goal seconds before half-time in Group A.
But Rodgers felt the team, which contained nine Englishmen, a debutant in Conor Coady and had an average age of just under 24, had performed well.
“Not at all. I think that is a little disrespectful to the players who are here,” said the Northern Irishman in relation to whether bringing Gerrard and the others would have made a difference.
“They have been magnificent and I thought they did really well and we just got punished for a mistake. That led to us losing the game but I don’t think it was anything to do with Suarez, Gerrard, Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel or Daniel Agger not being here.
“It was just one of those things. We will take it as a team, we are disappointed but there are so many positives from tonight.”
Traore’s goal came when he turned Sebastian Coates and lobbed goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Rodgers said the players knew what went wrong and he felt the team he picked had justified his selection.
“We are disappointed with the result. I thought the players put everything into the game,” he added.
“Tactically our concentration was very good. We controlled the game for 44 minutes and 50 seconds of the first half
“We made a bad mistake and got punished and that is the level.
“It was more of the same second half.
“We had chances and there is real disappointment in the changing room and I felt for the players.
“We were up against a good side with top players and we held our own. Some of the young players were terrific and we are disappointed not to have got something from it.
“It was a mistake late on in the half. We just have to do that better at defending it once he (Traore) has turned.
“That is something the players involved know themselves so it is nothing they need to be told.
“I thought the performance level was good on a difficult pitch but I thought the players played the system tactically very well.
“We just find ourselves unfortunate not to get something from a very difficult place.”
Anzhi manager Guus Hiddink was happy to gain revenge for their defeat at Anfield a fortnight ago.
“They had a young side but that does not mean they were not experienced as some of those players play frequently in the Premier League,” he said.
“They were good players, skilful players who were tactically good.
“They tested us but we also have some young players so it’s a good result for us.
“We didn’t finish it off in the second half, we had two big opportunities, but it was an interesting game on a very bad pitch.
“They tested us so we have to be happy with this result.”