JOE COLE admits delight at his personal contribution was tempered by Young Boys’ dramatic late equaliser which has left Liverpool’s Europa League hopes in the balance.
The Reds appeared to have secured their place in the last 32 when Cole slotted home his first goal for the club in 19 months to put Brendan Rodgers’ side 2-1 up at Anfield.
However, Elsad Zverotic restored parity two minutes from time to leave Liverpool needing a result in next month’s final Group A game away to Udinese.
Anzhi Makhachkala, who beat Udinese 2-0 in Moscow last night, have already qualified. And the Reds will join them if they triumph against the Italians, who are already eliminated, on December 6.
A draw would be sufficient for Liverpool to progress to the knockout stages if Young Boys fail to defeat Anzhi at home.
“It’s been a long time since I got one in front of the Kop,” said Cole. “It was an enjoyable game to play in but we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the result to put us through.
“We could have managed the game better. We need to learn from these experiences so that if we’re in that situation again that collectively we do better.
“There were a lot of positives to take from the game but overall it’s a feeling that we could have done better.
“We’re still confident that we can qualify. We need to go to Udinese and try to win the game.
“It will be tough over there but I’d imagine that we will go there with a strong squad. Liverpool Football Club need to be playing European football after Christmas.”
Cole, who has struggled since he arrived at Anfield on a free transfer from Chelsea in 2010, was making just his fourth start of the season.
However, he created the opening goal for Jonjo Shelvey and then scored himself before departing to a standing ovation.
Cole has been linked with a move away from Liverpool in January but remains focused on forcing his way into Rodgers’ plans.
“It was my third game back from injury and I’ve felt stronger in every game I’ve played,” he added.
“I just need to keep going and keep plugging away. I’ve been a good player at West Ham, Chelsea, Lille and England when I’ve played. I’m sure if I play football here I’ll be a good player for Liverpool.
“I came off because my hamstring was a bit tight. That’s the longest I’ve played in that position and I got through a lot of running. But I’m okay and I’ll be available for Sunday.”