Brendan Rodgers was “proud” of the way Liverpool’s youngsters played against Bordeaux but reserved special praise for “immense” Mamadou Sakho.
Liverpool opened their Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw in France on Thursday night after Adam Lallana’s second-half goal was cancelled out by substitute Jussie late on to deny the Reds an opening win.
However, with Rodgers making eight changes it was the young players who impressed – the first-half introduction of debutant Pedro Chirivella brought the average age down to 21.7 – and the manager was full of praise.
“I am disappointed, but I feel encouraged by the performance with so many young players,” he said.
“I was disappointed their striker got too many touches in the box but if you can’t win, especially away from home in Europe, you at least get a point and we’re satisfied with that.
“I was so proud of them tonight. I will always give the young players an opportunity if they have the personality.
“The senior players were outstanding helping the younger players and we will look for more of that in the coming weeks.”
Chirivella and Jordan Rossiter, both 18, impressed in central midfield and Rodgers noted that.
He said: “As the game wore on they combined with the other players and I thought they acquitted themselves well.
“If you take those two, Jordon Ibe who is 19, Joe Gomez who is 18, there was great encouragement for the young players and supporters.”
Lallana was returning from a month out with a thigh injury and despite some rustiness in the first half he took his goal brilliantly.
“It was an outstanding goal. It was his touch and creativity which we have not seen so much of this season.
“It was a wonderful goal and (substitute) Danny Ings was unfortunate not to score.”
Rodgers added: ” (Mamadou) Sakho was immense at the back. He knows he has had to be patient and his attitude has been first class.
“He has trained very well, kept professional, done his extra work on his fitness and he has got his rewards for that.
“He certainly comes into the reckoning for the weekend (against Norwich).”
Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol was happy with securing a draw.
“I am really proud of the team as we created a few opportunities,” he said.
“But of course if you want to create opportunities throughout the game then you leave yourself open to counter-attacks and when you have players of the calibre of (Emre) Can, Lallana and (Philippe) Coutinho it makes it difficult.
“Our objective overall was to control the game and we managed to come back so this was a good performance.”