MARK HUGHES admits his side's defensive frailties proved to be their downfall against Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, as the Reds edged an eight-goal thriller in front of the live television cameras.
The Welshman had seen his side produce a storming first-half fight-back, after falling behind to two fortuitous strikes from fullback Aly Cissokho and the Premier League's top goal-scorer Luis Suarez.
However, a controversial Steven Gerrard penalty restored the visitors' advantage, following efforts from Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam, before the unmarked Suarez made it a double with a clinical finish from a tight angle to seemingly take the game out of the reach of the hosts.
Jonathan Walters hammered home a third for Hughes' side late on, before the game was finally put to bed in the dying stages when substitute Daniel Sturridge fired home at the second attempt, having initially been denied from close range by Jack Butland.
"Defensively we made too many errors today, and in the end that proved to be decisive in the outcome of the game," Hughes revealed to stokecityfc.com following the game.
"We fell behind to a very unfortunate goal, which took a huge deflection, and then didn't deal with a long punt forward in the manner that we should have done, which gave them the second.
"We were then 2-0 down without them really having a shot on goal at that point, and to be honest that was difficult to take given the fact that they hadn't put us under any real pressure.
"To be fair to the lads they showed great character to come back into the game before half-time, and then we were thinking we have a platform to build upon and have a real go at them.
"Low and behold at the start of the second half we get a really poor decision go against us, and the referee gives them a penalty, that certainly didn't warrant being given in my opinion.
"As a circumstance of that, we are then having to chase the game a little bit and concede another one, which in truth we should have dealt better with."
He added: "We got ourselves back in the game again with a few minutes to go thanks to Jon [Walters], but then they score another slightly lucky goal right at the end to take the match away from us."