Liverpool: Champions League form must improve - Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard scores a late penalty against Ludogorets
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has scored a club record 44 penalties for the Reds

Captain Steven Gerrard said Liverpool must improve to progress in the Champions League after they needed his late penalty to beat Ludogorets 2-1.

The 2005 winners looked set to drop points against the Group B underdogs when Dani Abalo cancelled out Mario Balotelli's opener in stoppage time.

But Gerrard's spot-kick secured victory for Liverpool, who visit Basel next before a home tie against Real Madrid.

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"We did OK but it wasn't better than OK," he said. "There's a lot to learn."

Gerrard acknowledged Liverpool were caused problems on the counter-attack in their first match in the Champions League since 2009.

But he praised striker Mario Balotelli after the £16m summer signing from AC Milan scored his first goal for the club against the Bulgarian champions.

With eight minutes left, the Italian controlled the ball and turned in a single movement before steering it into the net with the outside of his right foot.

Gerrard said: "You have to give Mario credit. It didn't go his way for long periods but the sign of a good goalscorer is to keep going and get a chance.

Liverpool's Champions League journey
Basel (A) 1 October
Real Madrid (H) 22 October
Real Madrid (A) 4 November
Ludogorets (A) 26 November
Basel (H) 9 December

"If we win in Basel now it puts us in a good position but we must do better."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers also acknowledged his team need to recapture their best form after a patchy start to the season.

The Reds, who secured their return to the Champions League by finishing second in the Premier League in 2013-14, have lost twice in the first month of the campaign - to Manchester City and Aston Villa.

"We are not yet at the level we were last season but we will get there," said Rodgers.

"It was a great night in the end because we won.

"Ludogorets played very well. They are a very good side and to get the win was very important."

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