A defiant James Milner pledged Liverpool will give everything to reach Wembley for a second successive season, when they try to overturn a 1-0 defeat against Southampton in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.
A frustrating night at St Mary’s on Wednesday saw Nathan Redmond net the only goal of the opening game to give Claude Puel’s side a slender advantage at the halfway point of the tie.
However, while Milner conceded the Reds didn’t do enough as an attacking force to earn a positive result, he firmly believes the tie is far from being decided with another encounter to come at Anfield on January 25.
“Our build-up play wasn’t too bad and I thought we moved the ball alright, but it was just in the final third when we got into good positions we made the wrong decision and we didn’t create enough, which obviously cost us,” the No.7 told Liverpoolfc.com afterwards.
“They had the better chances in the game as well, so it was disappointing, but it’s only 1-0 and there’s 90 minutes still to go.
“I think the fact we haven’t played too well and are only one goal behind is a positive.
“I haven’t thought about the second leg at Anfield too much because it was all about tonight and wanting to get a win, but we didn’t do that. They are a good team and it’s a tough place to come.
“We are at home in the second leg and hopefully we can overturn it and get to Wembley.”
LFCTV GO: James Milner reflects on first-leg defeat
In his assessment of the match, Jürgen Klopp expressed frustration with Liverpool’s response to the setback of Redmond’s strike.
His sentiments were shared by Milner, with the vice-captain insisting an important lesson can also be learned from the way the opener seemed to change the balance of play in Southampton’s favour.
“The goal changed the game,” he added. “I thought we started well but didn’t have the clear-cut and goalmouth chances we would have liked, but the goal rocked us back a bit.
“That’s probably somewhere we can improve and make sure a goal like that doesn’t knock us out of our rhythm and we just carry on playing.”
On a disappointing night, a major positive for the Reds was the sight of Philippe Coutinho back on the field again, as he made his return from injury as a second-half substitute.
Milner said: “He’s a top player and every team in the world would miss him.
“It’s a credit to the boys the amount of goals we have been scoring without him, but it’s great to see him back.
“The more minutes he gets, the more comfortable he’ll get again. It’s not easy when you’ve been out that long, still thinking about the injury, so it was positive for him to get some minutes.
“The more he plays, the more influential he will be for us again.”