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Stewart Downing explained that Liverpool simply started playing too late against Southampton and that was the primary factor in their 3-1 defeat at St Mary's on Saturday.
First-half goals from Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert rocked the Reds on the south coast and a late strike by Jay Rodriguez meant Philippe Coutinho's effort was merely a consolation.
The 28-year-old accepted that a slow beginning to the encounter cost his team, who were trailing after five minutes.
"We just didn't start brightly enough," Downing told Liverpoolfc.com after the match.
"The manager said we didn't start playing until we were 2-0 down. He stressed from the start that this was a difficult game, probably one of the hardest of the season.
"They are scrapping for their lives and, to be fair, they were the better team on the day. You've got to give them credit for that. We started too late."
Brendan Rodgers' side entered the fixture with their best run of form to date under the Northern Irishman, having won each of their last four games in all competitions.
Confidence was high around the camp following the dramatic victory over Spurs last Sunday and Downing insisted the Reds should have been capable of a repeat against the Saints.
The winger added: "If you can beat Tottenham at home, you should come here and win. If you want to be in the top four, you have to come to places like this and win.
"That's easier said than done. It's difficult with them being in a relegation fight and playing for the new manager as well.
"I still think we had chances in the game considering we didn't play well. We started too late and the game was over."
Many of the Liverpool first team will now depart for international duty, although Downing will not be among them - having been overlooked by Roy Hodgson for the latest England squad.
That will allow the wide-man to concentrate on the Reds' next fixture - a trip to Villa Park to face his former club, Aston Villa.
"It can be good for the lads that go away for internationals; it takes their mind off it a little bit," he said.
"They can reflect on the game and what we need to do in the next game. It depends on the next result at Villa.
"The lads who haven't gone away will stay to train and work towards Villa. That will be a difficult place to go because they're down there fighting.
"I know what it's like to play at Villa Park - it will be hostile and a good atmosphere. We have to go there and win."
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