Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier was the first to admit the Reds had been beaten by the better side as Spanish champions Valencia clinched top spot in Group B with a 1-0 win at Anfield last night.
“In the first half we gave them too much respect. We looked nervous of them at times and we lost to a better side.
“When you lose to a good team you have got to put your hands up and say ‘well done’,” Houllier conceded.
“Once they took the lead, I knew it would be difficult, although we had three or four chances. But we didn’t take them, and you can’t do that against sides as good as Valencia.”
Houllier also noted that he believedthe defeat would help his young team develop, and praised the commitment they showed right up until the final whistle.
“I look at my team and see half of them still young, developing and learning. I can’t blame them for anything because they tried right to the very end.
“My team will learn from matches like this. We lost to a very, very good side, professional and clever, it will teach us a lot.
“They have played in two Champions League finals and have experience, maturity and composure. I regret there were too many professional fouls, but they were more experienced than us,” he admitted.
“Time will teach us that sort of flowing composure that Valencia have. I think this type of game will help us for the future.”
Liverpool now have it all to do in their final group game at Basle, and depending on the result of the Swiss side’s rearranged game at Spartak Moscow, the Reds may have to win to qualify.
But Houllier is confident of victory on November 12.
“This defeat does not change anything. We knew it would depend on what happened in Basel and we know we have to get something out of our game there,” the French coach said.
“We are confident we can beat any team. Basel were a bit lucky when they played here so we hope to have that luck at their ground.”
Valencia, who now have comprehensively disposed of Liverpool both home and away, were impressive throughout, particularly in the form of dominating stand in skipper Santiago Canizares in the visitors goal, and goalscorer Francisco Rufete.
“When you look at the game overall we were mostly in control,” Valencia coach Rafael Ben¡tez said.
“I was pleased with the way my players dealt with Liverpool’s pressing style.”
But Benitez took the time to warn Liverpool that going to Basle will not be easy.
“Basel are an extremely good side on their own pitch, as we found out,” he said.
“It will not be easy for Liverpool. I’d like to see thegame because it is going to be exciting. It will be a passionate affair.”