BASEL, Switzerland - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to be downbeat about his side's Champions League prospects despite a poor performance in Basel on Wednesday and with Real Madrid to come next.
The Reds were deservedly beaten 1-0 by the Swiss champions at the St Jakob-Park as captain Marco Streller netted the only goal of the game seven minutes into the second half.
Rodgers's side had already required a stoppage-time Steven Gerrard penalty to beat Bulgarian outsiders Ludogorets Razgrad in their opening Group B game and the prospect of two matches against the Champions League holders is surely enough to strike fear into fans of the Anfield club just now.
However, the Liverpool manager insisted: "The group is still very close. It was always going to be a group that went right to the end, certainly for second place.
"We are under no illusions that it will be tough. Our objective is still to get through to the knockout stages.
"It was disappointing tonight but our next game will be a great occasion for us at Anfield. In this competition in particular your home games are really important, but hopefully we will qualify because that is our aim."
Liverpool, in their first Champions League campaign in five years, are tied with Basel on three points with Madrid top on six points after a 2-1 victory at Ludogorets.
The Spaniards visit Anfield on Oct 22 with the return at the Santiago Bernabeu on Nov 4, and Rodgers knows his side will have to defend better than they did at the corner which produced the decisive goal in Switzerland, as Streller reacted quickest to score after a Simon Mignolet save.
Reds' captain Steven Gerrard was cutting in his assessment of the evening saying Liverpool "didn't deserve anything from the game.
We were soft and second best all over the pitch." And Rodgers, while he felt his team should have come away with a draw as Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic both came close in the second half, echoed those comments.
"Yeah I replicated that in the changing room. The goal we conceded was far too soft and it is not the first one. It is very disappointing after all the work we have done on the training ground," said the Northern Irishman.
"We never got going in the first 25 minutes, but then we grew into the game. But when you concede a soft goal like that it is difficult, away from home against a side who have a good record against English teams."