Liverpool's Cole suffers more agony
Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole apologised to his team-mates as his indifferent start to life at Anfield left the club's UEFA Europa League hopes hanging in the balance.
Cole followed up his red card against Arsenal last Sunday by missing a second half penalty against Trabzonspor in the play-off first leg on Merseyside on Thursday night. Liverpool still won 1-0 thanks to Ryan Babel's goal in first-half injury-time.
But Cole's second half miss from the spot, after Lucas had been fouled by Serkan Balci, means Roy Hodgson's side face a nervous night in Turkey in the deciding leg next Thursday. "The last penalty I took was when I was 13 and I scored that one," said Cole, who joined the club on a free after being released by Chelsea in the summer.
"It was always predetermined that if we got one I would take it, but it was a bad penalty. It's one of those things. But I hold my hands up for that. I'm still finding my feet, but I'm enjoying my time here and we've had a decent start. I'm getting fitter and stronger with every game."
Cole admitted that Liverpool still had it all to do if they were to qualify for the group stages. Before his penalty miss, Cole had provided the pass that allowed Babel to score in first-half injury-time. "We won the game 1-0 and we can take the positives from that," added Cole. "I'm happy about that but it wasn't a vintage display by any stretch.
"A lot of players still need games and we know it will be tough over there. We are far from through it yet. Going to Turkey is always very, very tough and we will have to be on top of our game to go through."
Hodgson said Liverpool had no one else but themselves to blame for failing to establish a more comfortable cushion. "We must blame ourselves because we missed a penalty," said the Liverpool manager. "If you miss a penalty then you can't blame anyone else.
"The extra-goal would have made the trip to Turkey more comfortable. But it will be far from comfortable. I thought we needed to play with more intensity after half time and I was pleased that we caused Trabzonspor more problems."
Hodgson rested midfielder Steven Gerrard but confirmed that his influential skipper will be back to face Manchester City at Eastlands on Monday. With such a slender lead, Gerrard could also now feature in the deciding leg against Trabzonspor.
"We'll see," added Hodgson. "It was important to rest him tonight. He played last Wednesday and then had a very intensive game against Arsenal. "So it was important that we rotated the team. We'll have to wait and see whether the margin of victory will be enough."