Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted a limp performance in the first 45 minutes had cost his side against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The Ulsterman said the Reds were “tentative” in the first half but added that he was proud of the team’s fighting spirit in the final 45 minutes, when Liverpool piled the pressure on Manchester United.
“I felt we were too tentative in the first half - but you can understand with young players playing here,” he said.
“There wasn’t much in the first half but any chances they had were through us giving the ball away.
“I said before we went out that when you play a rival - and this rivalry is massive - you need courage and you need to have belief.
“We wanted to pass the ball, which is great, but it has to be aggressive and we presented them with the ball and three opportunities just by being tentative.
“I am very proud of the fight of the team in the second half having gone 2-0 down.
“Teams who come here often crumble but I thought by the end we deserved something to be honest.
“We know in terms of the points we are 24 behind (United) but we are not 24 points behind in quality.
“The points difference is due to the squad and that is the difference for us, the depth of the squad.
“Once we close the gap in the squad over the coming transfer windows I have great faith we will be able to challenge and I have seen enough hope in these opening months that we will do that.”
United’s second was fractionally offside - although it was almost impossible to call in real time - and Rodgers had no complaints about the decision.
“I am more disappointed with how we defended it to be honest, we have to do better at the back post,” he said.
The Reds boss praised Sturridge for his significant contribution since arriving last week.
“You have seen from a half appearance today and 55 last weekend that this boy is a goalscorer and what he needed was an opportunity,” he said.
“He got one goal and was unlucky with a couple of opportunities. He is going to be a terrific signing for us.”