Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool failing in big games, says manager

FA Cup: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits 'the best team won'

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says his side need to deal with big-game occasions better after a dismal FA Cup semi-final performance at Wembley.

The Reds lost 2-1 to Aston Villa on Sunday to add to their League Cup semi-final defeat earlier in the season.

"We were nervous for some reason. Maybe when you want to win something so much, perhaps it plays on your mind," said Rodgers.

"Dealing with the occasion is something we need to improve at."

Rodgers added: "There have been other big games where we have dealt with that very well, but there are others where we haven't."

Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead but Christian Benteke levelled before half-time and Fabian Delph scored a superb second-half winner for Villa.

Liverpool finished second in the Premier League last season when they were overtaken by Manchester City late on in the race for the title.

The Reds endured a difficult start to this season and were as low as 12th at one stage, while they were also knocked out of the group stage of the Champions League.

An improvement in form has helped them to compete for a top-four spot but that challenge has faded in recent weeks following defeats by Manchester United and Arsenal.

Liverpool also have only one win against sides who are currently in the top four in the league.

The loss to Villa means Northern Irishman Rodgers has become the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s not to win a trophy in his first three seasons in charge.

He bemoaned a late offside decision which went against his side when Mario Balotelli put the ball in the net after Steven Gerrard's through-ball.

"It was a very poor decision," said Rodgers. "The official is looking across the line and should see the full-back playing Mario at least a yard onside. You need that to go for you.

"Steven Gerrard had a header cleared off the line, but apart from that we were too passive."

Liverpool are currently fifth in the top flight, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand.

"We need to focus on the performances and if we do that then normally we get the victories. But today it wasn't at the right level," added Rodgers.

"Now we have to strive for a top-four Premier League finish - it is an obligation of this wonderful club to fight until the finish."

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