STEWART DOWNING admitted Liverpool were guilty of showing Manchester United too much respect after their second-half fightback failed to save them from a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
The winger believes the Reds’ late flourish deserved a point but they were ultimately left to rue a desperately poor opening 45 minutes.
“In the end we’re disappointed that we didn’t take anything out of the game. We should have got a draw,” Downing said.
“We probably let them control it in the first half. We sat back too much and just let them have the ball too much. We showed United too much respect. The manager stressed at half-time that we needed to push on and put them under pressure more when they had the ball.
“He said if we could get at them they would tire and we would get chances. We did that and you saw that in the second half we played further up the pitch
“I thought in the second half our performance was really good. Certainly for the last 20 minutes we had them pegged right back.
“You could sense that their fans were getting edgy and Alex Ferguson was shouting a lot of instructions. We had them rattled a bit and created plenty of chances.”
Robin van Persie fired United in front midway through the first half and Liverpool were lucky not to fall further behind before the break.
It was only after Patrice Evra’s header was deflected in off Nemanja Vidic to make it 2-0 early in the second half that Brendan Rodgers’ side came to life. Substitute Daniel Sturridge reduced the deficit as he scored on his league debut but despite dominating the rest of the contest they couldn’t find an equaliser.
Sturridge now has two goals in two appearances for the Reds following his strike in the FA Cup tie against Mansfield and Downing admitted the introduction of the £12million signing at half-time made a big difference.
“Sturridge coming on maybe pushed us a bit further forward,” added Downing,.
“We got support for Luis (Suarez) up there, who was probably getting frustrated before that.
“That’s what Sturridge gives you. He can get in behind people, and he’s got pace and power. You saw that with the way he took his goal.
“We’re disappointed to lose but it’s encouraging that we created so many chances. Not many teams will come here and play like we did in the second half.”
The Reds remain eighth in the Premier League but are now nine points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.
Fabio Borini came through half an hour unscathed yesterday after making his comeback from a broken foot. It was the Italian frontman’s first appearance for Liverpool since early October.