Rodgers blames lack of intensity as Europa League knockout woes continue

Rodgers blames lack of intensity as Europa League knockout woes continue

Brendan Rodgers blamed shortfalls in intensity, creativity and quality for Leicester City’s Europa League exit as his own poor record in the competition’s knockout stage continued.

The Foxes were favourites to progress from their last-32 tie with Slavia Prague after a goalless draw in the first leg, but succumbed to a 2-0 loss at the King Power Stadium on Thursday.

Goals from Lukas Provod and Abdallah Dipo Sima sealed the win for the Czech side as Leicester – third in the Premier League – produced a poor performance.

Rodgers has now been eliminated from all five of his Europa League knockout ties as a manager (all in the last 32) – with Liverpool in 2012-13 and 2014-15, Celtic in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and now Leicester this season.

“We didn’t create enough over two legs. That’s the reality,” Rodgers told BT Sport. “We didn’t defend with any intensity. We gave away two disappointing goals.

“We got into some good areas but lacked quality when we arrived in them. We started pretty well and exploited some spaces in behind, but we didn’t have enough quality to break them down.

“Before this game we were in three competitions and we wanted to give it our all. We know where our priorities are and now, we’ll do our very best. We just lacked intensity and quality.”

Rodgers was without injured playmaker James Maddison while Harvey Barnes, Leicester’s top scorer in Europe this season, started on the bench.

The Northern Irishman defended his decision to leave Barnes out of the starting line-up and felt those players selected were good enough to get them through the tie.

“We lost to the better team. I take responsibility for the team I’ve picked. I picked a team I felt could win the game,” Rodgers added.

“Was it a game too far with our domestic commitments? Yes, but I don’t want to give too many excuses. We had players not available tonight at the top end of the field. Guys that can make a difference for us.

“However, I still expected us to show up more. They’ll learn from it, like they always do, and although we’re disappointed to be out we know we weren’t good enough.”

Cengiz Under and Marc Albrighton started on the flanks but failed to craft a chance between them. 

Barnes was introduced in the 61st minute, though managed just one key pass and one shot, which did not hit the target, and the creative burden fell mainly on fellow substitute Ricardo Pereira, who created a team-high two opportunities.

Leicester’s struggles were reflected by Jamie Vardy’s quiet performance. The 34-year-old had just 26 touches and two efforts, neither of which troubled visiting goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar.

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