Stoke City manager Mark Hughes
Image by: Phil Greig
23:01 5th January 2016
City boss insists there’s still all to play for...
MARK HUGHES struck an upbeat mood after the first leg of Stoke City’s Capital One Cup Semi-Final clash with Liverpool, insisting: ‘We’re still very much in the tie’.
The Potters will head to Anfield in three weeks’ time trailing 1-0, courtesy of Jordon Ibe’s first half strike at a sold-out Britannia Stadium.
City found clear-cut chances hard to fashion against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool but boss Hughes is confident his side can still plot a course through to the showpiece Wembley Final on February 28.
Hughes told the media: “People might want to criticise what we did in the first half but sometimes you have to credit the opposition.
“They restricted what we wanted to do in terms of getting people around the ball and restricting space and they did that to good effect and we had to improve in the second half.
“It’s exactly the same as what we do when we have a game plan where we impose our tactics on the opposition and that’s what they did to us.
“They had the benefit of the goal which in Semi-Finals is key and as a consequence of the goal they could drop deeper and protect a bit more.”
Hughes introduced Jon Walters to the action at the start of the second half and the Potters’ fortunes improved as they dominated possession but failed to find a way through Liverpool’s back line.
The manager added: “We recognised they had players out of position at the back and we made a change ourselves and went more direct in the second half. When you do that you need something to fall for you and tonight we didn’t get that.
“We dominated the second half in terms of possession but on the night we weren’t able to get that break. The key from our point of view is that we didn’t concede again and the danger was that if we over committed and conceded another one that would have been a huge task to go to Anfield and claw it back.
“As it is, it’s just one goal and we’re very much in this tie.”
The Potters must now prepare for another cup tie against Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup (kick-off 3pm).