BASEL, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Mario Balotelli was praised for a hard-working performance against FC Basel by Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers on Wednesday, even though the maverick Italian striker seemed to spend much of the game on the ground asking for free kicks.
"He went close with a free kick where he had a great shot. He knows his job is to create and score goals, and he's working hard to get into the areas. That's what we're asking of him," Rodgers told reporters after his side's 1-0 Champions League defeat against the Swiss champions.
"I think he worked hard. It's obviously his job to create and score goals, and he's working...
"It was a disappointing result for us tonight, but our next game will be a great occasion for us at Anfield," he added, referring to their home clash against Real Madrid.
"We're really looking forward to that now because in this competition, in particular, your home games are very important."
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admitted that his side deserved to lose.
"I think we created a good few openings where you would expect us to go and score, but we didn't deserve anything out of this game today," he told Sky Sports.
"I thought we were too soft all over the pitch," added Gerrard, who wasted two set pieces early in the game with poor delivery.
"I thought they wanted it more, which is very disappointing. Conceding again from a set-piece isn't good enough, so we need to get it right. You're not going to win a football match if you keep conceding from set-pieces.
"I think they are an okay team, but I wouldn't say we were blown off the park or that they were fantastic tonight. We made it easy for them and we wanted something out of this game - at least a draw."
Basel coach Paulo Sousa, on the other hand, described it as a "perfect" evening.
"We were courageous and ambitious and that led us to a great win," said the former Portugal midfielder, who is in his first season at the club and has upset fans with some of his line-ups and tactical decisions.
"It was a perfect evening, we defended well and we fought hard, we were ambitious and we created chances and used possession well." (Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Toby Davis)