Brendan Rodgers praised the valiant efforts of his players as they slipped out of the Europa League to Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday evening – and insisted the occasion demonstrated why he believes Liverpool are the 'world's great football family'.
The Reds recovered from the setback of Hulk's Kop end opener to stage an almost-heroic fightback as two stunning Luis Suarez free-kick's and a goal from Joe Allen gave them a 3-1 victory on the night.
Ultimately, last week's 2-0 defeat in St Petersburg proved too costly as the Russian champions progress into the last 16 on the away goals rule.
However, Rodgers believes his players could not have done much more to keep their European aspirations alive on a night when Kopites once again proved they really are Liverpool's 12th man as Anfield generated a stunning atmosphere.
Rodgers told his post-match press conference: "We're very proud of the club and the players tonight. Even though we lost the tie, tonight the football club and the players showed why they're part of the world's greatest football family here at Liverpool with the atmosphere and what the players put into the game.
"To have to come back from a three-goal deficit and put that effort, quality and character into the game was absolutely phenomenal - and I felt we should have had a penalty as well.
"I don't think the players could have done anymore. The crowd could not have done anymore. It was a fantastic night, but unfortunately we probably lost the tie over there.
"At this level to have to score that many goals and for us to nearly do it, gives me great pride in how the players performed."
One more goal would have been sufficient for Liverpool to progress - and Rodgers believes his side should have been awarded a 50th-minute penalty when Tomas Hubocan appeared to handle inside the box.
The boss said: "It certainly was a penalty - I think everybody could see that. We had momentum throughout the game and it looked a clear penalty. It wasn't one there was any debate on.
"We're disappointed with that, but it was a great night.
"We wanted to win the game and make every effort to get through - and I don't think the players could have done anymore.
"It was just unfortunate we haven't gone through and we'll probably look back on the game over there as one where we gave away poor goals which probably cost us, ultimately."
A rare error from Jamie Carragher proved costly in the early stages of the contest as his under-hit back pass allowed Hulk to bear down on goal and slot beyond Pepe Reina for the opener.
Rodgers reflected: "It's probably the first mistake I have seen him make since I came to the football club - and that includes every day in training.
"There's no blame attached. I thought he was brilliant tonight in how he controlled Hulk, who is a real threat with his strength and power. It was just unfortunate.
"I'm disappointed for Carra because he's a brilliant professional and he deserved to go into the next round. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be."
Elimination from the Europa League ends hopes of Rodgers ending his first season in charge with a trophy.
However, the manager insists there is still much to play for in Liverpool's final 11 Barclays Premier League games of the season.
"Our season doesn't finish - and was never going to finish - until the final whistle against QPR," stated Rodgers.
"This is a group that is growing all the time. You see the level of performance tonight - to dominate a team of that ilk and control the game like we did was incredible.
"For us going forward, it's to continue with how we've been working since the turn of the year. As the season has gone on, we've got better and improved. We want to carry that through until the very final whistle at the end of the season. You can see the players' hunger and determination to do that - and we'll look to do that in the last 11 games."
One challenge Rodgers will set his players in the remainder of the campaign is continuing the growth Liverpool have displayed in the last couple of months that has helped them turn in a number of outstanding performances and pick up some emphatic victories.
And if they can do that, the Northern Irishman believes the Reds will be better equipped to challenge for trophies come the start of 2013-14.
He continued: "We just need to do our best. We're out of the cup competitions and that's something we'll look to put right going forward - we want to win trophies here.
"The aim for the remainder of the season is to finish as high up the league as we possibly can. When I came here in the summer, that was the priority given to me and we want to finish as high as we possibly can.
"We can keep moving forward. I have seen great growth in the group and that will continue. We want to keep showing our quality, fight and spirit right the way through to the QPR game and then we'll all reassess in the summer.
"We'll be in a much better position come the beginning of next season because the framework will already be in place. It's difficult for the players with a new manager coming in with different ideas and work, but we're now starting to see there's a flow in it, they're comfortable with it and we're scoring goals and producing performances.
"To win tonight was great and hopefully that can continue."
Rodgers saved one final word for the Liverpool fans, who recreated some of the great European nights of the past by turning up the decibel levels inside Anfield.
He admits both players and staff are disappointed they could not reward Kopites for their vociferous support with a place in the next round - but he's confident there will be many more occasions to savour in future.
"It was absolutely breathtaking," said Rodgers. "One of the real values of this football club is unity. Everyone came together tonight and we just missed out.
"Hopefully in the future there will be many more great nights for us to celebrate.
"Having sampled that as a manager in the home dugout, I want many more occasions like that with bigger prizes.
"We really needed them tonight and they were right behind us all the way. We're disappointed we couldn't do it for them, but hopefully there will be many more in the future that we can do for them."