Rickie Lambert believes tomorrow's crunch Champions League clash in Bulgaria is among the biggest games of his career to date, with the Liverpool striker determined to rise to the occasion and build on a debut goal for the club.

On Sunday, almost six months after sealing a dream switch to the side he has supported since childhood, the 32-year-old experienced the thrill of hitting the back of the net in a red shirt when he opened the scoring against Crystal Palace.

That landmark moment after 90 seconds proved the highlight for Lambert and co, however, as the Eagles responded and ultimately consigned Brendan Rodgers' charges to a fourth straight defeat by scoring twice late on for a 3-1 result.

Now the challenge is to recover immediately, with three points an important target when the Reds run out to face Ludogorets Razgrad in a Group B tie that could prove pivotal for their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.

"It is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest," Lambert told Liverpoolfc.com when asked where the game ranks in a career that has taken the No.9 from lower league football to Anfield and the World Cup.

"It's massive for the club. We know the importance of it if we want to get into the next round, which is something that we desperately want to do. We have waited so long to get back into this competition so we don't want to be going out at the first hurdle.

"This is a massive game that everyone is looking forward to. On the back of the defeat on Sunday, this is ideal to try to rectify our performance. That's what's so good about football, when you have three games in a week you've got a chance to turn it around straight away.

"The [Palace] result was disappointing but the performance was probably worse. That's what we want to rectify; whether we manage to win against Ludogorets or not, it's the performance that has to be better. It has to be what this club has been used to for the last few years."

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A Scouser and a Kopite who often watched from the stands of Anfield before earning the opportunity to play at the stadium, Lambert understands exactly how a frustrating run of results can affect the club's supporters.

"We want to turn it around as much as them, and we know we're the ones that can do something about it," was his message to the fans. "We understand this is the time to stick together, not to start questioning our beliefs and philosophy.

"This is where we've got to believe in them more than ever; that's why this team has got so far. It was always going to take a little time for our players to get used to each other and I believe after Christmas you'll see the best of us.

"But this is where we've got to dig deep right now and start grinding out results. We don't have to play the best football but we have to win the battles and get back to basics."

Lambert admitted that opening his account for Liverpool at the weekend was ultimately overshadowed by the events that followed, taking 'most, if not all' of the enjoyment from a finish he has long awaited.

Nevertheless, the England international is confident that the breakthrough - which he expects to bring an increased level of ease and freedom - can become a foundation for a streak of goals.


Reflecting on his clinical conversion in London, the striker added: "There were so many emotions that it is hard to describe how I felt - there was obviously pure elation and a lot of relief.

"There were so many emotions let loose in the celebration. I was so happy to get off the mark for Liverpool. I had to wait a little while for it, but it has finally come and hopefully that is the first of many now.

"It does make me more relaxed. Like every striker, the first goal is the most important because it calms your nerves and gives you a confidence boost. That is definitely going to happen now, I believe, and I'm hoping to get a run in the team."