Will Liverpool be bruised or galvanised by Ludogrets draw?
Brendan Rodgers's side put in much-improved performance but still can't secure a victory
Ludogrets 2 Liverpool 2. A 2-2 draw against the team lying second in the Bulgarian football league might not sound like the kind of result to galvanise struggling Liverpool, but manager Brendan Rodgers claimed his side's peformance against Ludogrets Razgrad has the capacity to "change our season".
The Reds were unlucky not to beat the Bulgarians, but were thwarted by a late equaliser from Georgi Terziev. But at least the draw ended a run of four successive defeats and ensured they would not lose five in a row for the first time in 61 years.
The result was almost an irrelevance. Win or draw the equation remains the same: they must beat Basle at Anfield in the final Champions League group game to go through to the knockout stages.
At stake in Bulgaria "was their manager's reputation, their ability to stand up to pressure and show the character that their critics believe they lack," says The Times. "They delivered on all those fronts only to fall short on another as a late equaliser from Ludogorets prevented them from securing the win that Brendan Rodgers had been seeking."
However, steel took precedence over silk in what the paper calls "a much-improved performance", bookended by errors that gifted Ludogrets a second-minute lead and an 88th minute equaliser. In between, goals from Rickie Lambert and Jordan Henderson rewarded the Reds superiority on the pitch with an advantage on the scoreboard.
The question is how the result, rather than the performance, affects the Reds. The Independent describes Ludogrets's equaliser as a "livid bruise to [Liverpool's] self-confidence that is as delicate and fragile as Dresden china laid out for a toddler's birthday party".
If Liverpool show as much resolve against Basle as they did in Bulgaria they have every chance of progressing. But "if they continue to defend like they did against Ludogorets, they will have none at all," warns the paper.