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We gifted it to Chelsea, admits Reds boss

GERARD HOULLIER admitted Liverpool shocking defensive display during yesterday's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea was "unnacceptable".

A series of mistakes gave the Londoners an easy win, with Sander Westerveld and Stephane Henchoz directly responsible for two of the goals.

"We deserved what we got because we gifted two goals.

When you make two presents like that, you can't expect to win," said Houllier.

"I don't accept it when we concede goals like that.

The defending has to be better.

"The first goal in a game is always of vital importance.

We knew Chelsea were short of confidence, but the first goal gave them a boost.

"We had a response in the second half and had two good chances, but by then the game was already sealed.

"Maybe if Nick Barmby had scored we had a chance to come back.

I thought if we'd scored one goal it could have been a different game.

Overall I don't think we deserved anything.

The first and third goals were errors.

" Houllier also said he would stand by Westerveld, despite mounting criticism of his performances this season.

"I don't find it easy to forgive mistakes like that, but I do forgive," Houllier added.

"The players are human and they make mistakes.

Sander is still young.

He saved results for us last season but he has to show his character now.

"It's too early to think about whether to leave him out but the immediate answer to that question is no.

He now needs support and backing.

"Funnily enough, Sander did not have much to do.

He had no saves to make apart from the goals.

We were battered here more last season."

Claudio Ranieri appealed for the real Chelsea to stand up after witnessing the more impressive side of their dual personality.

Chelsea hauled themselves out of the bottom three with yesterday's win, their first in Premiership win since the season's opening day.

It lifted the mood at Stamford Bridge after last week's surprise defeat to St Gallen had dumped the Londoners out of Europe.

Ranieri, speaking through his interpreter, said:'I'd like to know which is the real Chelsea.

If we only knew.

"To be or not to be."

"That is the question," he added in English with a smile.

Coach Ranieri made six changes to the team who had lost 2-0 in Zurich three days earlier, and received an early boost when Westerveld punched the ball into his own net in the 10th minute.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink added a second within a minute, before Eidur Gudjohnsen seized on a poor back pass from Henchoz to seal the game.

Ranieri said:'The first half hour was electric for me.

That was a success I wanted and the players wanted.

"It was the spirit and mentality I wanted.

"We played very intelligently.

I changed the system but it's not the system, it is the players who made the difference because of their mentality."

"I complimented the players for the way they played.

I wanted to send the fans away proud."

The Italian also clashed briefly with Liverpool coach Phil Thompson, who was as animated as usual in front of the visitors' dugout.

Ranieri said:"I like to have friendly banter with the opposition so I told him I would give him a flag and a whistle so he could do everything.

I also asked him to forgive me because in one case he was right."

Emile Heskey has joined the England squad, despite fears that he needs knee surgery.

He will be assessed by England medical staff before deciding if he is fit to face Germany and Finland.

Copyright - Liverpool Echo

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